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What Seniors Should Know About Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 (aka: cobalamin) plays an essential role every cell of your body. The energy level you feel is actually generated by each and every cell in your body and B12 is an essential part of this efficient process of cellular energy production.

It is also important to understand that while most people do not have a B12 deficiency there is a big difference between deficiency/overdosing and optimum performance. Clearly we all want to avoid the problems that come with metrics outside the range of optimum health.

As we age as well as with the use of antacids and diabetes medications B12 absorption can become a problem. These issues can reduce stomach acid and create digestive issues such as celiac disease hindering our ability to access B12. 

In fact, Studies Suggest that up to 20% of people over the age of 60 in the United States and the United Kingdom are deficient in this vitamin.

B12 and your skin

Cobalamin (B12) has a complex relationship with the skin. Levels outside the normal range (too high or too low) can lead to a variety of health and skin conditions. The biochemistry and metabolism of this vitamin is complex, and diseases can be associated with alterations in the metabolic pathway of B12.

Skin based manifestations of cobalamin deficiency include hyperpigmentation (most common); hair and nail changes; and oral changes, including tongue inflammation. Additionally, several dermatologic conditions, including vitiligo, atopic dermatitis, and acne are related to cobalamin excess or deficiency.

Skin health complications of cobalamin therapy include acne, rosacea, and allergic site reactions.

Generally, people should start paying attention to this after age 50. By age 65, as many as 4 in 10 adults may have gastric issues that hinder B12 absorption.
The federal dietary guidelines call for a daily intake of 2.4 micrograms of B12 for all adults. 

However, a well known study in the BJM (British Journal of Medicine, 2015)  found that the omissions, in these guidelines seem to suggest a reluctance by the committee behind the report to consider any evidence that contradicts the last 35 years of nutritional advice.

Just think about the advances we’ve experienced in that time. Would you consider buying a new car limited to technology from 35 years ago?

Recommended Vitamin B12 Dosage For Seniors

There is no specific recommendation for 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 and make sure your doctor is not following 35-year-old guidelines.

For reference, B12 levels above 300 pg/mL (are considered normal, levels of 200–300 pg/mL (Picograms per milliliter) are considered borderline, and levels below 200 pg/mL are considered 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 (mcg) per day. A recent study found that for seniors, a daily dose of 500 micrograms was efficient in reversing the signs of B12 deficiency. Discuss your diet and your underlying health issues with your doctor before deciding on a B12 supplement.


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