Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mild vitamin B12 deficiency associated with accelerated cognitive decline

Date:
December 5, 2012
Source:
Tufts University
Summary:
A study conducted at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University associates mild vitamin B-12 deficiency with accelerated cognitive decline in men and women, beginning in their mid-seventies. Whether such mild vitamin B-12 deficiency has any clinical consequences is the subject of debate.

Being mildly vitamin B-12 deficient could be an indication that some older adults are at a greater risk for accelerated cognitive decline, an observational study from researchers at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (USDA HNRCA) at Tufts University suggests.

Martha Savaria Morris, Ph.D., an epidemiologist in the Nutrition Epidemiology Program at the HNRCA at Tufts University, and colleagues examined data from 549 men and women enrolled in a cohort of the Framingham Heart Study, focusing on scores on the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), a short list of questions and tasks commonly used to screen for dementia. The subjects were divided into five groups, based on their vitamin B-12 blood levels.

Being in the two lowest groups was associated with significantly accelerated cognitive decline, based on an analysis of test scores from 5 MMSE tests given over a period of eight years. The average age at baseline was 75 years-old.

"Men and women in the second lowest group did not fare any better in terms of cognitive decline than those with the worst vitamin B-12 blood levels. Over time, their MMSE scores declined just as rapidly," Morris said. "Rapid neuropsychiatric decline is a well-known consequence of severe vitamin B-12 deficiency, but our findings suggest that adverse cognitive effects of low vitamin B-12 status may affect a much larger proportion of seniors than previously thought."

In the August 2012 issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, Morris and colleagues write that MMSE scores dropped, on average, 0.24 points per year versus an average drop of 0.35 points annually in the two groups with the lowest vitamin B-12 blood levels. The authors observed an even steeper decline of about 1-point per year in some people in the two lowest groups who also exhibited high blood levels of folate or took supplements containing its synthetic form, folic acid, although their models indicate the additional cognitive decline is potentially related to other health problems in this particular study population.

The subjects in this study were mostly Caucasian women who had earned at least a high school diploma. The authors said future research might include more diverse populations and explore whether vitamin B12 status impacts particular cognitive skills, as the MMSE results provide only a general picture of decline.

"While we emphasize our study does not show causation, our associations raise the concern that some cognitive decline may be the result of inadequate vitamin B-12 in older adults, for whom maintaining normal blood levels can be a challenge," said Paul Jacques, D.Sc., the study's senior author and director of the Nutrition Epidemiology Program.

Animal proteins, such as lean meats, poultry and eggs, are good sources of vitamin B-12. Because older adults may have a hard time absorbing vitamin B-12 from food, the USDA's 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that people over 50 years-old incorporate B-12 fortified foods or supplements in their diets.

Jacob Selhub, Ph.D., director of the Vitamin Metabolism Laboratory at the USDA HNRCA, co-authored the study. Selhub and Jacques are also professors at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.

This research is supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) (grant# 1 R01 NS062877-01A2) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Tufts University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Martha Savaria Morris, Jacob Selhub, Paul F. Jacques. Vitamin B-12 and Folate Status in Relation to Decline in Scores on the Mini-Mental State Examination in the Framingham Heart Study. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 2012; 60 (8): 1457 DOI: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2012.04076.x

Cite This Page:

Tufts University. "Mild vitamin B12 deficiency associated with accelerated cognitive decline." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 December 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121205102613.htm>.
Tufts University. (2012, December 5). Mild vitamin B12 deficiency associated with accelerated cognitive decline. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121205102613.htm
Tufts University. "Mild vitamin B12 deficiency associated with accelerated cognitive decline." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121205102613.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
West Africa Gripped by Deadly Ebola Outbreak

West Africa Gripped by Deadly Ebola Outbreak

AFP (July 28, 2014) The worst-ever outbreak of the deadly Ebola epidemic grips west Africa, killing hundreds. Duration: 00:48 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A national study conducted by the USDA Forest Service found that trees collectively save more than 850 lives on an annual basis. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Google's Next Frontier: The Human Body

Google's Next Frontier: The Human Body

Newsy (July 27, 2014) Google is collecting genetic and molecular information to paint a picture of the perfectly healthy human. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins