If Youre Vegan Or Vegetarian
If you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, youre at a higher risk of a vitamin B12 deficiency since meat, eggs, poultry, and other dairy animal products are the main sources of B12.
There are def still vegan and vegetarian-friendly foods that are rich in vitamin B12 like fermented foods, fungi, and yeast but these may not be as bioavailable . Research also indicates these forms may compete for absorption with bioavailable forms of B12, potentially making a deficiency even worse.
Chat with your doc about the potential need to supplement with B12. If you do end up deciding to start taking it, make sure that youre thoroughly checking ingredient labels since some capsules and gummies can use animal products in them. Your best bet is looking for a vegan certified product.
Who Needs A Vitamin B12 Supplement
Practically anybody can benefit from taking a vitamin B12 supplement. After all, this water-soluble vitamin does not accumulate in your fatty tissues, so its difficult for you to take too much.
There are some people who are at an increased risk of vitamin B12 deficiency. Seniors are more likely to be deficient for the reasons mentioned above. Vegans are also at a higher risk, since they arent able to get any vitamin B12 from animal products.
Youre more likely to suffer from a vitamin B12 deficiency if you have any other underlying health conditions. For instance, if you have pernicious anemia, youre more likely to suffer from a deficiency. This condition makes it difficult for your body to produce certain proteins that are essential for the proper absorption of this nutrient.
There are other digestive disorders that can increase your risk of deficiency. Nutrients arent as easily absorbed, so you may need more than normal for your body to effectively utilize them. Disorders that put you at an increased risk of vitamin B12 deficiency include:
Finally, there are certain medications that can inhibit B12 absorption in seniors. One is metformin, which is a drug used to treat diabetes. Chloramphenicol is another medication that makes it harder for your body to absorb B vitamins of all kinds .
There are certain heartburn medications that can make it difficult for your body to metabolize vitamin B12 too. Proton pump inhibitors are some of the worst offenders!
What Does Having A Vitamin B12 Deficiency Feel Like And What Are The Consequences
Often, having a vitamin B12 deficiency can look or feel like symptoms associated with normal aging. A B12 deficiency can mimic or exacerbate these conditions:
- Paranoia or hallucinations
Often, more long-term consequences of an advanced B12 deficiency in older people involve weaker red blood cell formation, lower metabolism, impaired nerve functioning, and weaker bone health. B12 deficiencies are also heavily linked with neurological disorders like Alzheimerâs or dementia.
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Best Overall: Nutrilite Vitamin B Dual Action
NSF certified & ConsumerLab top pick
Contains at least 100% of all eight B vitamins
Slow release tablet
Contains spirulina, which may not be beneficial for all
Nutrilite Vitamin B Dual Action stands out as a ConsumerLab Top Pick for B-complex supplements, containing all eight of the B vitamins in a dual action slow-release tablet that dissolves over eight hours. It releases B12 and B2 quickly, then slowly releases the other B vitamins throughout the day, providing you with 125% to 417% of your daily B vitamin needs. It’s also certified by NSF, so you can feel extra confident that it contains exactly what’s on the label with no harmful contaminants.
This supplement provides vitamin B12 in the form of cyanocobalamin. In addition to the B vitamins, it contains 75 milligrams of spirulina, a type of blue green algae that contains protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants. While the amount of spirulina in this supplement may be too low to have any effect, spirulina may lower blood pressure, slow blood clotting, increase immune system activity, and lower blood sugar. Please talk to a healthcare provider before starting this supplement if you are taking medication for diabetes, immunosuppressants, or anticoagulants.
Nutrilite Vitamin B Dual Action is a great supplement to take to ensure you are getting adequate B vitamins in your diet, without providing too much above the recommended intake.
Best Vitamins For Seniors
Discover the seven best vitamins for seniors with Seniorly. Learn which vitamins are best for helping older bodies stay in the best shape possible.
We all need vitamins and minerals for our bodies to function at their best, especially older adults. According to the National Institutes for Health, there are 14 known vitamins and 15 minerals. Thats a lot to keep track of. The best vitamins for seniors are good for almost everyone, but have particular benefits for us as we age.
While most of us get all of the vitamins and minerals we need through our food , many do not. Thats where we need to be proactive about maintaining the right diet and supplement program. Multivitamins that pack in all the supplements and antioxidants seniors need most into one convenient capsule can help.
For those who dont get enough vitamins and minerals through diet, taking a dietary supplement can help, but there can also be risks. As we age, the amount of nutrients we need changes. We also take more medications as we get older and some vitamins and medications can have negative interactions or interfere with one another. Thats why its important to know what kinds of vitamins are best for seniors and in what quantities.
Be sure to consult your doctor for advice on the vitamins you need and how much to take.
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Dietary Supplements For Older Adults
Dietary supplements can be beneficial at any age, but they can also have unwanted side effects, such as unsafe prescription drug interactions. They could also not work at all.
Its important to understand the supplements you are taking and why you are taking them. Talk with your doctor if you are considering taking a supplement.
On this page:
Does Medicare Cover Vitamin Supplements For Seniors
There are a few instances in which Medicare may provide coverage for vitamins and supplements for beneficiaries.
- Niacin and Vitamin D may be covered by Medicare Part B when prescribed by a doctor to treat a certain condition.
- Part B may also cover vitamin supplements as part of a nutrition therapy program for the treatment of diabetes, kidney disease or recovery from a kidney transplant.
- Some Medicare Part D or Medicare Advantage plans with prescription drug coverage may include certain vitamins and supplements in their drug formularies.
You can compare Part D plans available where you live and enroll in a Medicare prescription drug plan online in as little as 10 minutes by visiting MyRxPlans.com.4
Speak to your doctor about any vitamins or dietary supplements that may be recommended for you.
Find a Medicare Advantage plan that supports your healthy lifestyle
Or call 1-800-557-6059TTY Users: 711 24/7 to speak with a licensed insurance agent.
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not healthcare advice. Speak to your doctor or healthcare provider about your specific healthcare needs.
About the author
Christian Worstell is a senior Medicare and health insurance writer with MedicareAdvantage.com. He is also a licensed health insurance agent. Christian is well-known in the insurance industry for the thousands of educational articles hes written, helping Americans better understand their health insurance and Medicare coverage.
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Who Should Use These Supplements
Who needs to supplement with a multivitamin/mineral supplement? Those who dont get sufficient vitamins and minerals from their diet, who have certain medical conditions, and those with a vitamin deficiency, may benefit from taking a single-ingredient supplement or a multivitamin.
Since the RDA for vitamins and minerals differs by gender, we support multivitamins for seniors that are specifically formulated for men or women.
Speaking of RDAs, please see the chart below of Vitamin and Mineral Recommended Daily Allowances as reprinted from the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University.
A few definitions may aid you in reviewing the above:
- Mcg = microgram, or one-millionth of a gram
- IU = an International Unit
Who Is Most At Risk For A Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Vegans and vegetarians tend to be the most at risk for vitamin B12 deficiency. Thats because the most reliable source of this nutrient comes from animal products.
While you can often find vitamin B12 in fortified cereals, the most common ways to consume vitamin B12 are all through foods like:
There are other factors that put you at risk of a vitamin B12 deficiency. Unfortunately, getting older is one of these factors. You are more at risk of vitamin and mineral deficiencies as you age simply because your body doesnt absorb the nutrients as effectively as it once did. Other risk factors include:
- Gastrointestinal disorders like celiac disease or Crohns disease
- A history of surgery on the digestive tract
- Taking acid-reducing medications or metformin
- Various genetic mutations, like MTRR, MTHFR, and CBS
- Regular consumption of alcoholic beverages
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Excessive Folic Acid Intake
Although folic acid is generally considered non-toxic, excessive intakes above 1,000mcg per day over a period of time can lead to malaise, irritability and intestinal dysfunction. The main risk with excessive folate intake is that it can mask a vitamin B12 deficiency, so its best to consume these 2 vitamins within the recommended amounts.
The Free Radical Theory Of Aging
Another thing to consider is how free radical damage contributes to the aging process. The Free Radical Theory of Aging proposed that damage to cellular mechanisms and tissues occurs because of damage resulting from oxidative stress on the organism due to free oxygen radicals. Endogenous oxidative damage to proteins, lipids, and DNA is thought to be a contributing factor in aging and the development of chronic diseases such as cancer, atherosclerosis, and cataract formation.
There is a hypothesized effect, which relates to antioxidant vitamins and aging. Certain antioxidant compounds might scavenge these damaging free oxygen radicals and prevent cellular destruction and aging. Vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene, often referred to as antioxidant vitamins, have been suggested to limit oxidative damage in humans and lower the risk of certain chronic diseases. And fish oil is another well-researched supplement known for its anti-inflammatory properties.
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Why Are Seniors At Risk For Vitamin B12 Deficiency
As people get older, their ability to absorb vitamin B12 tends to decrease. This is because seniors often develop problems with the acids and stomach enzymes needed to process the vitamin.
Common risk factors for low vitamin B12 in seniors include:
- Low levels of stomach acid, which can be due to weakening of the stomach lining, or to medications that reduce stomach acid
- Medications such as metformin , which interferes with vitamin B12 absorption
- Alcoholism, which irritates the stomach and is sometimes linked to a poor diet
- Surgeries that remove parts of the stomach or small intestine
- Any problem that causes poor absorption in the stomach or small intestine, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohns disease
Whole Foods: Natures Multivitamin And Multi
Before ending this, we also wanted to give you a jumpstart on the foods you should include in addition to your supplements. After all, most medical and nutrition experts agree that the best way to get the vitamins and minerals we need is through a balanced diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, as well as nuts, meat, eggs, fish, and dairy. Essentially, you want a wide variety of food groups to ensure proper nutrition and that you get all the vitamins and minerals you need. Below is a recommended selection of nutrient-dense foods for your consideration:
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Dosages For Older People
When youâre in your 60s you should officially start getting blood tests to test for vitamin B12 deficiency. Around this age, you should be getting around 2.4 micrograms of B12 a day.
Not only does this mean consciously eating foods that contain vitamin B12 but it also means that you should ingest this vitamin as a supplement. By taking supplements, you will ensure that your body absorbs vitamin B12. Additionally, there is no way that you will overdose on B12, so donât worry about taking too much.
This number is also higher in certain European countries as well as the fact that vitamin B12âs benefits have been speculated to be even more widespread than traditionally thought.
What Are Vitamins And Minerals
So, what exactly are vitamins and minerals, and how can they help you?
Vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients that our bodies need to develop and function normally. They are often called micronutrients because your body needs only tiny amounts of them. Yet failing to get even those small quantities creates nutrient deficiencies, which can virtually guarantee problems. Since your body produces only limited amounts of vitamins, youre dependent on diet and supplementation to meet your daily requirements for these essential vitamins and minerals.
There are two types of vitamins: water-soluble and fat-soluble. Water-soluble vitamins dissolve in water and are not stored by the body. Since they are eliminated in the urine, we require a daily supply in our diet. The water-soluble vitamins include the vitamin B-complex group and vitamin C.
Fat-soluble vitamins, A, D, E, and K, are stored in fat before they are absorbed into the bloodstream. Any excess of these vitamins is stored in the liver, and they are not necessarily needed every day. However, you have to be careful not to take in too much of these as they can lead to toxicity.
Of course, regardless of the form, its important to have a balance of all of these essential nutrients over time so that your body can function at its best.
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How To Use Vitamin B12 Supplements
When it comes time to take your B12 supp, youre free to toss it down the hatch morning or night.
A lot of claims state that B12 boosts your energy and shouldnt be taken before bed, but theres no research to back that up. In fact, a 2021 study found that higher levels of vitamin B12 may be linked with better sleep quality and decreased use of sleep medication.
Why Do We Need Vitamin B12 Anyway
Vitamin B12 deficiency can really affect your health and well-being:
- Healthy pregnancy. When that bun in the oven is growing, it needs B12 to develop a healthy brain and nervous system. The latest research shows that low B12 levels during pregnancy can increase the risk of birth defects, preeclampsia, low birth weight, and preterm birth.
- Brain development. Vitamin B12 plays a big role in fetal *and* neonatal brain development, so its important for vegan and vegetarian mothers to supplement the nutrient while pregnant or breastfeeding.
- Bone health. B12 deficiency has been linked with lower bone mineral density. The lower the density, the more fragile and delicate your bones get over time. Research from 2021 review even found that theres an increased risk of bone fracture in peeps with low B12.
- Improved mood and memory.Research from 2021 found that vitamin B12 deficiencies are associated with memory loss, irritability, and depression.
- Improved energy. If youre deficient in B12, you might feel more fatigued, have less energy in general, and have decreased exercise tolerance.
Luckily, supplementing with vitamin B12 can improve your B12 levels, which can contribute to a healthy pregnancy, fetal/neonatal brain development, and improved bone health, mood, memory, and energy.
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Vitamin And Mineral Deficiencies In Seniors
Another thing to consider is why older adults have a particular need for vitamin and mineral supplementation. In fact, over 35 percent of all adults 65 and older have some deficiency, and many more have suboptimal levels of various vitamins and minerals. Some of the most common micronutrients that seniors are deficient in or have suboptimal levels of include:
Can I Buy Something Similar Cheaper Elsewhere
One of the most common questions that a lot of customers ask is, Can I buy something similar cheaper elsewhere? The short answer is no. When you are looking for a quality vitamin b12 supplement for seniors, the most important thing to know is that cheap is not always better. You should carefully research the best vitamin b12 supplement for seniors before buying and consult the prices on some online sales websites to make the best decision.
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How Does Vitamin B12 Deficiency Cause Harm To Seniors
The most common health issues in seniors related to low vitamin B12 levels are:
- AnemiaThis means a persons red blood cell count is low. Red blood cells carry oxygen in the blood, so anemia can cause fatigue or shortness of breath. The breakdown of faulty red blood cells can also cause jaundice, which is yellowing of the skin.
- NeuropathyThis condition occurs when nerves throughout the body arent working well. It can cause a variety of symptoms, including tingling, numbness, burning, poor balance, and trouble walking.
- Cognitive impairment
- Memory problems
- Walking difficulties
You may have heard that vitamin B12 deficiency can cause pernicious anemia. But in fact, its the other way around.
Pernicious anemia is a result of the bodys inability to make whats called intrinsic factor. The body needs intrinsic factor to absorb vitamin B12. Without it, vitamin B12 levels eventually drop. This often causes anemia, though sometimes symptoms of nerve and brain problems develop first.