Image for Low Vitamin B12 Levels Possibly Linked to Cognitive Decline
Copyright 2013 Natural Standard (
December 2012

Low Vitamin B12 Levels Possibly Linked to Cognitive Decline

A new study suggests that low vitamin B12 may be associated with cognitive decline in the elderly.

Vitamin B12 is an essential water-soluble vitamin that is commonly found in a variety of foods, such as fish, shellfish, meat, eggs and dairy products. Vitamin B12 plays an important role in supplying essential methyl groups for protein and DNA synthesis. Current human data suggests that low maternal vitamin B12 status may increase the risk of fetal neural tube defects.

The recent study used data from 549 elderly individuals in the Framingham Heart Study. Participants took a test to assess cognitive impairment and had their blood levels of vitamin B12 measured.

For data analysis, researchers divided participants into five groups, depending on their vitamin B12 levels. Individuals in the two lowest groups had blood vitamin B12 concentrations of 187 to 256.8 picomoles per liter. Compared to individuals in the three higher vitamin B12 groups, the two lowest vitamin B12 groups had significantly faster cognitive decline over eight years. More research on this topic is warranted.

For more information about vitamin B12, please visit Natural Standard's Foods, Herbs & Supplements Database.


  1. Morris MS, Selhub J, and Jacques PF. Vitamin B-12 and folate status in relation to decline in scores on the mini-mental state examination in the Framingham heart study. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2012 Aug;60(8):1457-64. View Abstract
  2. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine.
The information in this brief report is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions. Copyright 2013 Natural Standard Inc. Commercial distribution or reproduction prohibited.