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5 Reasons Vitamin B12 Is Important for the Elderly

By , 9:00 am on

Found primarily in meat, fish, eggs, dairy, and other animal products, vitamin B12 is one of the most important nutrients for aging adults. This key vitamin is used to create a lot of important cells in the body, so seniors need at least 2.4 mcg of vitamin B12 per day. However, it’s difficult for seniors to absorb vitamin B12. The following five reasons explain why you need to pay attention to your senior loved one’s vitamin B12 consumption.

1. Produces Healthy Red Blood Cells

The body cannot form properly shaped red blood cells without B12. Seniors who have a B12 deficiency could end up with large, irregularly shaped blood cells that cannot move throughout the bloodstream properly. Without enough red blood cells, they cannot get oxygen throughout the body. Over time, they may end up with megaloblastic anemia, which leads to fatigue, headaches, dizziness, and weakness that can impair quality of life and increase the risk of dangerous accidents. 

Seniors can face a variety of challenges as they age, many of which can be mitigated with the help of professional in-home caregivers who provide high-quality in-home care. Huntsville, AL families trust Home Care Assistance to help their elderly loved ones age in place safely and comfortably.

2. Prevents Depression

People who have a vitamin B12 deficiency are twice as likely to develop severe depression. Since seniors are already going through some changes that can increase the risk of depression, anything that boosts mood may be useful. There’s no precise explanation for vitamin B12’s ability to reduce depression, but it seems to be linked to the vitamin’s role in making serotonin, an important chemical that regulates mood.

3. Reduces Memory Loss

Researchers have found that vitamin B12 deficiencies are strongly linked to memory issues. Even moderately low levels of B12 may be enough to make seniors have some slight memory problems. Fortunately, those who get enough vitamin B12 have a reduced risk of dementia. The vitamin prevents memory loss because it plays a role in halting neuron loss in old age.

Keeping track of your loved one’s vitamin B12 consumption is just one of the many challenges you may face as a caregiver, which is why you should take breaks to prevent burnout. There are a variety of reasons family caregivers should consider respite care. Huntsville, AL, families often have additional responsibilities that make it more challenging to provide the care their senior loved ones need and deserve. A professional respite caregiver can take over your important caregiving duties, allowing you more time to focus on yourself.

4. Lowers the Risk of Osteoporosis

A 2005 study published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research found that seniors who get adequate levels of vitamin B12 have significantly reduced osteoporosis risk. The vitamin synthesizes the DNA needed to form new osteoblast cells. Seniors who have a deficiency could end up with brittle bones that break very easily. For optimal results, it’s best to start getting adequate vitamin B12 as early as possible.

5. Keeps the Eyes Healthy

Age-related macular degeneration is a leading cause of eyesight loss among seniors, and vitamin B12 can lower the risk of developing this condition. Vitamin B12 reduces levels of homocysteine, a type of protein associated with macular degeneration. This protein seems to cause issues in the circulatory system, so vitamin B12 might help with macular degeneration by ensuring the macula get all the nutrients they need. A combination of B12 and B6 is particularly useful in preventing eyesight loss.

Prevention of nutritional deficiencies becomes even more important with age, but families aren’t always able to meet their loved one’s dietary needs. If you’re the primary family caregiver for a senior loved one living in Huntsville, live-in care is available if your loved one’s health has become too difficult to manage without professional expertise. At Home Care Assistance, we take measures to help seniors prevent illness and injury by assisting with exercise and mobility, preparing nutritious meals, helping with bathing and other personal hygiene tasks, and much more. Call (256) 716-9940 to speak with a friendly and experienced Care Manager.