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Vitamin B12 Deficiency Common in Assisted Living Facility Residents

Previous studies have made a connection between low vitamin B12 levels and a range of health conditions in older adults, including dementia, lethargy, osteoporosis, depression and anemia. Now a recent study has found that that vitamin B12 deficiency is prevalent in adults residing in long-term care facilities.


Participants in the study included 412 people who were residents of an assisted living facility. 69% of them were women, and the mean age was 87.  Data measured during admission to the facility included demographics, B12 status, B12 supplementation, medications, diagnoses, functional independence, cognitive performance and nutrition.


The researchers found that 13.8% of the participants had vitamin B12 deficiency at time of admission, and 38.3% had subclinical deficiency. Only 47.6% of the residents had normal vitamin B12 levels at admission. One year after admission, 75% of the participants who entered with B12 deficiency had improved B12 status.


The researchers believe these deficiencies are due to the fact that their bodies are not properly absorbing it, and suggest that supplementation may help improve B12 status.


Researchers from the University of Waterloo in Canada conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on January 19, 2016, in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism.


Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that is essential to the proper function of the brain, nervous system and formation of blood. Deficiencies in vitamin B12 can lead to fatigue, depression and memory lapses.


Food sources of vitamin B12 include liver, turkey giblets, oysters, clams, king crab and whole milk. If your diet is not rich in these products, you should consider supplementing with a high quality multivitamin or vitamin B12 supplement.

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