Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin that is necessary for many functions in the body including red blood cell formation, DNA synthesis and nervous system function. It is found naturally in many different foods and also added to others. Your need for vital nutrients may increase as you get older. Your health care provider may recommend a variety of nutritious food options to obtain nutrients and prevent deficiencies.
Children and adults typically consume the recommended amounts of Vitamin B12 through their diets. However, older adults are more susceptible to a deficiency because they have difficulty absorbing vitamin B12 from foods, notes the National Institutes of Health. This malabsorption occurs in older adults due to several conditions such as atrophic gastritis or pernicious anemia. Individuals suffering from a vitamin B12 deficiency may suffer from symptoms like constipation, weight loss, fatigue, decrease appetite, depression, poor memory and constipation.
Older addults require 2.4 micrograms or mcg of vitamin B12 daily, notes the Linus Pauling Institute. If you have a condition, check with your health care provider for your exact vitamin B12 requirement. Tufts University recommends for older adults to focus on vitamin B12-fortified food products to ensure adequate intake and absorption. Older adults may also be recommended to obtain an additional 100 to 400 mcg of vitamin B12 from dietary supplements, notes the LPI.
Vitamin B12 Sources
Vitamin B12 naturally occurs in many animal-based foods such as eggs, meat, poultry and fish. Different types of shellfish such as clams, mussels and crab also provide vitamin B12. Three oz. of cooked salmon provides 4.9 mcg of vitamin B12. Milk and milk products such as yogurt and cheese are also sources of vitamin B12. In addition to providing vitamin B12, these food sources also provide good sources of protein. Individuals that do not consume meat may still obtain vitamin B12 through a variety of fortified food products. Some examples include ready-to-eat cereals, non-dairy milk and meat substitutes. One serving of a fortified breakfast cereal may provide 6.0 mcg of vitamin B12. Nutritional supplements and vitamin formulas also provide vitamin B12 in a tablet, powder or liquid form.
Ask your doctor before using any dietary supplements. Tufts University recommends for older adults to consume a balanced diet that provides an array of nutrients. Aim for lean meats, poultry, fish and low-fat dairy products. Choose 3 or more servings of fresh fruits and dark green leafy vegetables. Consume 6 of more servings of high-fiber whole grains such as brown rice and whole-wheat bread. Drink 8 oz. of water at least eight times a day to prevent dehydration.