Vitamin B12 Dosage For Seniors Mayo Clinic

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Recommended Vitamin B12 Dosage For Seniors

8 Signs You May be Vitamin B12 Deficient.

The proper vitamin B12 dosage for seniors depends on if they have underlying health conditions and how severe their deficiency is. In some cases, doctors may recommend high doses more than 1,000 micrograms per day. A recent study found that for seniors, a daily dose of 500 micrograms was efficient in reversing the signs of B12 deficiency.

In general, experts recommend 2.5 micrograms of vitamin B12 per day for people over the age of 14. You can get these amounts from taking dietary supplements like multivitamins, B12 supplementation including sublingual tablets, or by eating certain foods rich in vitamin B12.

There is no one recommended vitamin B12 dosage for seniors. Rather, the right daily intake will largely depend on your specific situation. Make an appointment to talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you.

Final Thoughtsvitamin B12 Dosage For Seniors

Vitamin B12 deficiency is very common among seniors.

Untreated, it can lead to serious health effects. If youre a senior, speak to your doctor about testing your B12 levels. If youre using a supplement, the vitamin B12 dosage for seniors may need to be higher than for younger adults to make up for problems with absorption.

After speaking to your doctor, an effective vitamin B12 dosage for seniors, if youre taking a supplement, could be anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 mcg a day.

We encourage you to look at our post on the best vitamin B12 supplements, which are easy to take and highly absorbable and bioavailable.

Recommended Dosage Of Vitamin B12 For Seniors

Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin that is necessary for many functions in the body including red blood cell formation, DNA synthesis and nervous system function. It is found naturally in many different foods and also added to others. Your need for vital nutrients may increase as you get older. Your health care provider may recommend a variety of nutritious food options to obtain nutrients and prevent deficiencies.

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Why Is Vitamin B12 Deficiency Often Missed In The Elderly

Vitamin B12 deficiency is often missed in seniors for two reasons:

  • The symptoms are overlookedThe signs of vitamin B12 deficiency are quite common in older adults and can easily be caused by or attributed to something else.
  • It progresses very slowlyMany people often go through a long period of being mildly deficient. During this time, a senior may barely notice their symptoms, or think the symptoms could be caused by another chronic health condition.
  • Still, a mild deficiency will almost always get worse over time. And even when a senior has many other causes for fatigue or problems with mobility, its good to fix the aggravating factors.

    Unlike many problems that affect seniors, vitamin B12 deficiency is quite treatable. First, you need to make sure its detected. Second, you need to make sure the treatment plan has raised their vitamin B12 levels and that theyre kept steady.

    Effects Of Vitamin B12 Deficiency

    What is the correct dosage of vitamin B12 for an adult?

    When you dont get enough vitamin B12, you may experience deficiency symptoms. These may include confusion, depression, difficulty recalling or remembering information, and tiredness. Chronic deficiency may result in weight loss, loss of appetite, and digestive issues. Left untreated, a vitamin B12 deficiency may lead to , including balance problems, tremors, an increased risk of falling, and numbness or tingling in your extremities.

    Chronic vitamin B12 deficiency in blood levels can dramatically affect the brain and nervous system. It may cause nerve damage, and studies show low vitamin B12 levels may be a risk factor for problems in cognitive function such as dementia and psychosis.

    Older people who dont get enough vitamin B12 may be at higher risk for anemia and infections. Symptoms of anemia caused by a vitamin deficiency include a sore mouth, diarrhea, and pasty or yellowing skin. Vitamin B12 along with another B vitamin, folic acid plays a key role in producing red blood cells, which deliver oxygen to your organs.

    When you dont get enough vitamin B12 or you have a folate deficiency, your organs suffer from a lack of oxygen, meaning they function less effectively. The result is known as megaloblastic anemia, a disorder where your body produces inadequate red blood cells.

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    Riboflavin Boosts The Immune System

    A diet rich in vitamin B2, also known as riboflavin, is needed to avoid riboflavin deficiency. Recommended daily allowances of B2 are 1.3 mg a day for men and 1.1 mg a day for women. Pregnant women need 1.4 mg daily, and breast-feeding mothers should have 1.6 mg each day. You can get this B vitamin from natural sources such as nuts, green vegetables, meat, and dairy products.

    Riboflavin helps your body break down and use the carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in your diet and helps metabolize food into energy. This type of B vitamin also functions to keep your skin, the lining of your gut, and your blood cells healthy. Getting enough riboflavin may be preventive for migraine headaches and cataracts, according to the National Institutes of Health. Riboflavin may also increase energy levels, boost the immune system, and treat acne, muscle cramps, and carpal tunnel syndrome.

    Herbal Supplements And Older Adults

    Herbal supplements are dietary supplements that come from plants. These types of supplements are taken by mouth, whether its by a capsule, tablet, powder, or liquid.

    A few that you may have heard of are ginkgo biloba, ginseng, echinacea, and black cohosh. Researchers are looking at using herbal supplements to prevent or treat some health problems, but its too early to know if these are both safe and useful. Previous studies of certain herbal supplements have not shown any benefits.

    Its important to know that just because a supplement is natural, or comes from plants, that doesnt necessarily mean its safe.

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    Benefits Of Vitamin B12 For Seniors

    Its no secret that getting your vitamins and nutrients is key to staying healthy. Vitamin B12 is particularly important because it plays a role in brain function, metabolism, nerve cells, and blood health. Vitamin B12 helps to metabolize an amino acid known as homocysteine. This amino acid has been linked to cognitive decline in Alzheimers and Parkinsons disease.

    Vitamin B12 helps to create and reproduce blood cells and is also involved in producing energy. Thats why you may feel fatigued or dizzy when you have a deficiency. Vitamin B12 may also play a part in bone and vision health. Studies show low vitamin B12 levels have been linked with osteoporosis. Additional research indicates low levels of vitamin B12 may increase the risk of macular degeneration.

    What Is Vitamin B12

    Possible link between vitamin B12 levels and dementia in Parkinsons disease

    Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is an essential vitamin that your body needs to function properly. Its found in dairy products such as yogurt, milk, and cheese as well as in meat, fortified cereals, and fish. Beef, pork, lamb, poultry, and ham are all rich sources of vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 supplements are also created in labs through bacterial fermentation. Since natural vitamin B12 comes mainly from animal sources, vegans typically need to use a supplement to get proper amounts of the nutrient.

    This vitamin plays a key role in creating red blood cells and producing nerve tissue that helps transmit signals from the brain to cells. Vitamin B12 is water-soluble and travels through your bodys bloodstream to aid in cell function.

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    Folic Acid Is Essential For A Healthy Baby

    Vitamin B9, also called folic acid or folate, is a nutrient that’s necessary for the body’s growth and development. The National Institutes of Health recommends that adults get 400 micrograms daily, while breast-feeding mothers need 500 mcg a day, and pregnant teens and women should get 600 mcg a day. Naturally occurring folate is found in many sources, including dark-green leafy vegetables, asparagus, brussels sprouts, oranges, nuts, beans, and peas. In addition, folic acid is added to many fortified foods such as cereals and breads.

    Teens and women who are pregnant or planning to get pregnant may find it difficult to get enough folate, but this B vitamin is vital to a baby’s health and development. Getting enough folate prevents neural tube birth defects in babies and promotes healthy growth.

    The Office of Dietary Supplements of the National Institutes of Health recommends talking with your healthcare providers about any dietary supplements you take.

    Mayo Clinics Stunning Vitamin D Research

    Health Tips / Mayo Clinics Stunning Vitamin D Research

    Im not suggesting you spend a weekend reading the historically important and game-changing 30-page article in this months Mayo Clinic Proceedings entitled Vitamin D for Health: A Global Perspective. The studys authors have written an exhaustive meta-analysis, which means that although they didnt perform any original research themselves they reviewed the research of others around the world and also looked at previous meta-analyses.

    In essence, they sat down in front of a computer, typed the words vitamin D supplementation into medically oriented search engines, and read everything. If theres one single take-away from todays health tip, its that quite likely you yourself are deficient in vitamin D and youd be wise to do something about it.

    We all learned in grammar school that D is the sunshine vitamin because when our skin is exposed to sunlight, we make our own D. What happens is that the suns ultraviolet B waves trigger chemical reactions in our bodies so they manufacture a pre-vitamin D that penetrates our bloodstream and then converts to the active form, vitamin D-3. Your vitamin D status is determined by measuring one of D-3s metabolic products, 25D.

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    Mayo Edge: Vitamin B12 Deficiency More Common With Increasing Age

    DEAR MAYO CLINIC: I recently read that being deficient in vitamin B-12 is common. Should I take a supplement? I’m 78 and in good health.

    Vitamin B-12 deficiency is more common with increasing age, and affects 5 to 15 percent of adults. Some of this is early deficiency and not associated with symptoms. Once symptoms develop, they are sometimes overlooked because they develop slowly and are similar to many other problems related to growing older. It pays to be alert to symptoms and consider taking a vitamin B-12 supplement or eating food fortified with vitamin B-12. Vitamin B-12 is one of the few vitamins Mayo Clinic experts routinely recommend for older adults.

    Vitamin B-12 plays a role in red blood cell formation, cell metabolism, nerve function and bone health. The primary natural sources of vitamin B-12 are meats, fish, shellfish, eggs and milk it is not found naturally in plant products. Some foods, such as breakfast cereals, are fortified with vitamin B-12. It is stored in large quantities in the liver and re-circulated in the body, so even if you suddenly stopped getting vitamin B-12, it would likely take years for deficiency to develop.

    Aging: With age, the ability to absorb vitamin B-12 often diminishes. Inadequate nutrition and higher risk of digestive diseases also may be an issue.

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    The Recommended Vitamin B12 Dosage For Seniors

    Our advisors help 300,000 families each year find the right senior care for their loved ones.

    Its quite possible to have clinically low vitamin B12 levels without having anemia. If a clinician declines a request for a vitamin B12 check because an older person had a recent normal blood count, you can share this research article with them from The New England Journal of Medicine.

    If the vitamin B12 level is borderline, a confirmatory blood test can be ordered. Its called methylmalonic acid, and its higher than usual when people have vitamin B12 deficiency.

    If the blood tests confirm a vitamin B12 deficiency, the doctor will prescribe vitamin B12 supplementation. The doctor may also recommend additional tests or investigation to find out why your parent has developed low levels of vitamin B12.

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    Vitamin B1 Is Important For Preventing Beriberi

    The recommended daily intake of vitamin B1, also called thiamine, is 1.1 milligram for women over age 18, up to 1.4 mg for those who are pregnant, and 1.5 mg for those who are breast-feeding. For men age 14 and older, 1.2 mg per day is recommended, according to the National Institutes of Health.

    Vitamin B1 plays a major role in metabolizing food into energy. B1 is found in whole-grain cereals, yeast, beans, nuts, and meats. Too little vitamin B1 causes beriberi, a disease affecting the heart, digestive system, and the nervous system. Beriberi is found in patients who are malnourished, and in those who are heavy drinkers of alcohol. Symptoms of beriberi include difficulty walking, loss of sensation in the hands and feet, and paralysis of the lower legs and it may even lead to congestive heart failure. People who consume large amounts of alcohol should take a vitamin B complex supplement to be sure they get enough B1. Also, taking any one of the B vitamins for a long period of time can result in an imbalance of other important B vitamins. For this reason, you may want to take a B-complex vitamin, which includes all the B vitamins.

    Vitamin B3 Breaks Down Food Into Energy

    We need vitamin B3, also called nicotinic acid or niacin, in our diets every day to break down food we eat into energy we can use. Females who are 14 and older need 14 mg a day males in this age group need 16 mg daily. Legumes, nuts, enriched breads, dairy, fish, and lean meats are all good sources of this type of vitamin B.

    Not getting enough niacin in your diet causes the disorder known as pellagra. Symptoms of pellagra include both physical and mental difficulties, diarrhea, inflamed mucus membranes, and dementia. Pellagra can also result when the body is not able to absorb enough niacin because of alcoholism. Health benefits of niacin include its use as a treatment to help control high blood levels of cholesterol. Doses of niacin high enough to lower cholesterol are associated with several side effects and should only be taken with a physicians supervision.

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    How Much B12 Should You Take

    For healthy individuals who are not at risk for B12 deficiency, eating a well-rounded, nutrient-rich diet should provide all the B12 their body needs.

    Food sources of this vitamin include eggs, red meat, poultry, seafood, milk, yogurt, fortified cereals, nutritional yeast, and fortified non-dairy milk.

    However, individuals taking medications that affect B12 absorption, pregnant or breastfeeding women, vegans, and anyone with a condition that negatively impacts the absorption of or increases the need for B12 should consider talking with their doctor about taking a supplement.

    Additionally, evidence from population studies suggests that B12 deficiency in older adults is common, which is why its recommended that adults over 50 years old consider taking supplements .

    While megadoses of up to 2,000 mcg are considered safe in treating B12 deficiency, its always best to avoid excessive amounts of any vitamin, especially when its not needed.

    Though daily high doses of B12 are unlikely to cause harm in most people, extremely high doses should be avoided unless a healthcare professional prescribes it.

    If you think you may be deficient in B12, speak with your doctor, who can recommend an appropriate treatment based on your level of deficiency.

    While no UL has been set for B12, your bodys ability to absorb the vitamin depends on how much it actually needs.

    For example, its estimated that only 10 mcg of a 500-mcg B12 supplement is actually absorbed in people without a deficiency (

    Are There Other Benefits To Taking Vitamin B12 Supplements

    Dangers of vitamin B12 deficiency

    Since we know vitamin B12 is necessary for proper functioning of red blood cells and brain cells, you might be wondering if your parent should take higher doses of vitamin B12 as part of a healthy aging approach to prevent conditions related to vitamin B12 deficiency?

    This preventive approach certainly doesnt hurt. But once an older person has a good level of vitamin B12 in the body, its not clear that additional vitamin B12 will reduce the risk of problems like cancer or dementia. To date, much of the research on the benefits of extra vitamin B12 has been inconclusive.

    However, research has definitely confirmed that a deficiency in this essential vitamin is harmful: The greater the deficiency, the more harm thats done.

    You can help your parents avoid problems by asking the doctor to check vitamin B12 if they exhibit a related symptom, or by requesting a proactive check if your parent has any risk factors.

    Our aging parents have enough health problems to deal with. Lets protect them from the ones that are easily detectable and treatable.

    Leslie Kernisan, MD, is a practicing geriatrician who believes that it shouldn’t be so hard for older adults and families to get the right kind of help with health concerns. For more practical tips and to get her free, quick guide to checking aging parents visit her at

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    What About Skin Cancer

    For patients, nothing shakes faith in doctors like opposing points of view. On one hand, dermatologists trying to prevent skin cancers tell us to stay out of the sun, wear big floppy hats, and apply plenty of sunblock. They equate tanning beds with cigarette smoking.

    Vitamin D researchers say dermatologists have this all wrong. Superficial skin cancers usually occur on the face, are easy to remove, and rarely are dangerous. Melanomas, which everyone agrees are dangerous skin cancers, usually appear in unexposed areas anyway, so covering every inch of skin as a protection from melanoma is counterproductive and by doing so your vitamin D levels will plummet.

    Theres no evidencenot a scrapthat sensible sun exposure like our hunter-gatherer ancestors experienced increases skin cancer risk. Interestingly, melanoma is least likely to occur among people with outdoor occupations, indicating that vitamin D is involved here as well.

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