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Posts Tagged ‘Vitamins for old age’

Vitamin B12 Deficiency and Depression in Older Adults

Monday, August 26th, 2013



Feeling blue? For many older adults, vitamin B12 deficiency and low vitamin B6 can cause depression, leaving you feeling down in the dumps. Before you rush off to the doctor for a new pill to ease your depression, CHECK YOUR DIET!! Here’s the scoop on B vitamins and depression in senior citizens.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency and Depression in Older Adults

Vitamin B12 and vitamin B6 are both essential nutrients for neurological health and emotional balance. As you age, your ability to digest vitamin B12 from food naturally diminishes, leading to increased risk for vitamin B12 deficiency and also low vitamin B6.

Can Vitamin B12 help depression in seniors?

Study focuses on depression in older adults

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition recently featured a study in which it was discovered that higher intakes of vitamin B12 and vitamin B6 were associated with a lower likelihood of depression in older adults.  Both vitamins B12 and B6 play critical roles in the production of neurotransmitters, or “chemical messengers” in the brain, including Serotonin, which is the brain’s “feel good” neurotransmitter.

Thus it makes sense that a deficiency of vitamin B12 and vitamin B6 may be a cause or symptom of depression.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency and Menopause Symptoms

Vitamin B12 feels good!

The subjects of the study were adults aged 65 years or older from the Chicago Health and Aging Project (CHAP). Their diets were evaluated for consumption of vitamins B12 and B6 over a period of seven years.  The incidence of depression was also noted. It appeared that for every 10 mg increase in vitamin B12, patients reported a 2% increase in overall good mood. The same effect on depression was also noted with each 10 mg increase of Vitamin B6.

Foods rich in B vitamins

Foods rich in vitamin B6 include bran (rice and wheat), bananas, avocados, chicken or turkey breast, raw garlic, dried herbs and spices,  fish (such as tuna, salmon, and cod), liver, whole grains, beans, peanuts, pistachios, and walnuts, sunflower seeds and sesame seed (and techina).  Foods rich in vitamin B12 include fish, meat, liver, poultry, eggs and dairy.  Today many breakfast cereals are now fortified with vitamin B12 also.

Older adults at risk for B12 deficiency

Older adults tend to exhibit a higher incidence of both depression and vitamin B12 deficiency.   However, it has been noted that some adults, despite eating foods high in B-vitamins, continue to suffer a vitamin B12 deficiency. This may be related to limited stomach acidity in older people, which can prevent vitamin B12 from food from being absorbed into the body.  In other cases, the lack of intrinsic factor as we age, which impairs our ability to absorb vitamin B12 from food and supplements, may be the cause of this inability to absorb Vitamin B12.

Treat vitamin B12 deficiency now!

When evaluating symptoms of depression in older adults, diagnosticians should evaluate their overall diets in order to rule out any vitamin deficiencies. Individuals aged 50 or older, especially vegetarians, will likely benefit from supplementing their diets extra vitamin B12, as well as eating fortified breakfast cereals or sprinkling nutritional yeast onto meals and snacks.

In this way older adults can simultaneously reduce the risk of depression and vitamin B12 deficiency.

Your turn!

Do you have any questions or suggestions?  Please leave your comments below.

Share with your friends!

If you found this article helpful, then please share with your friends, family, and coworkers by email, twitter, or Facebook.

Like this? Read more:

I Eat Healthy…So How did I Get Vitamin B12 Deficiency?

Is Vitamin B12 Deficiency a Crisis?

Vitamin B12- a Penny a Day Keeps Dementia Away

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Best Vitamins for Menopause (And a Couple you can forget about): Part 1

Thursday, June 6th, 2013



Which vitamins are the best for women during menopause and afterwards? They’re not the same ones that you took dutifully during your teens, your 30s, or until now. When you reach middle age, it’s important to update your vitamin regimen in order to prevent vitamin B12 deficiency and other health conditions that can creep up on women during menopause and old age.

Best Vitamins for Menopause (And a Couple you can forget about): Part 1

Please speak with a doctor before beginning any new vitamin regimen. While most vitamins such as vitamin B12 are perfectly safe to take in any amounts, certain nutrients such as vitamins and calcium can have a detrimental effect on your health if taken in abundance.

Best vitamins for menopause

As you age, your demand for nutrients begins to change. This is especially true for women, as menopause symptoms such as tiredness, aching joints, and hot flashes sometimes indicate a need for a new vitamin regimen.

To save money and prevent vitamin overuse, it’s important to limit supplementation to nutrients that specifically target the health needs of women during menopause, including perimenopause (pre-menopause) and post-menopause.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient for building red blood cells, maintaining the nervous system, and delaying age-related symptoms of dementia.

Unfortunately, as you get older, it gets harder to digest vitamin B12 from foods, as your body stops making enough stomach acids, which are crucial for vitamin B12 digestion.

Old age, including menopause, is one of the highest risk factors for vitamin B12 deficiency anemia.

Once you reach menopause, you may begin to notice signs of vitamin B12 deficiency, a dangerously low depletion of vital vitamin B12 nutrients needed to support good health.

Untreated, vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to nerve cell damage (peripheral neuropathy), increased risk for heart attack and stroke, osteoporosis, and symptoms of dementia that occur with old age.

Signs of vitamin B12 deficiency include:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Memory loss
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Disorientation
  • Confusion
  • Painful numbness and tingling in the extremities
  • Muscle spasms
  • Headache
  • Tinnitus (ear ringing)
  • Difficulty retaining balance
  • Poor hand-eye coordination
  • Frequent falling


Women entering menopause need to take calcium each day, as estrogen levels drop, causing bone loss and calcium malabsorption. For best results, women in their 50s should take 1200mg of calcium supplements, divided into smaller 500mg doses throughout the day.

If you take protein pump inhibitors (PPIs) for acid reflux, then make sure to use calcium citrate.

Note: In addition to interfering with absorption of calcium carbonate, PPIs also prevent you from digesting vitamin B12.

Read more about medications that cause vitamin B12 deficiency.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, in preventing bone loss caused by old age and menopause. Doctors recommend taking 600 IU of vitamin D in your 50s, and increasing that amount to 800 IU once you reach your 70s.

Vitamin C

Menopausal women should be taking at least 250mg of vitamin C each day in order to sustain healthy joint movement. Vitamin C also helps you absorb iron, supports a healthy immune system and kills free radicals.

For women suffering from iron deficiency anemia, ask your doctor if you should increase your vitamin C uptake to 500mg.

Your turn!

Do you have any questions or suggestions?  Please leave your comments below.

Share with your friends!

If you found this article helpful, then please share with your friends, family, and coworkers by email, twitter, or Facebook.

Like this? Read more:

Vitamin B12 Deficiency and Menopause Symptoms

Vitamin B12 Deficiency and Menopause: Risk Factors


Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS)

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