Vitamin B-12 is an essential, water-soluble vitamin needed for the formation of healthy blood cells, DNA and neurological functioning. It's found naturally in abundance in animal products like fish, chicken, eggs, milk and meat. It's also added to fortified cereals. In the United States, one in 31 adults over the age of 50 have low vitamin B-12 levels, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, putting them at risk for anemia and possibly skin bruising.
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Skin bruising occurs more commonly as people age. Bruising may point to low platelet levels, which are substances that aid in the clotting process to stop bleeding. Vitamin B-12 is needed by the body to make new blood cells, reports Harvard Health Publications. Without new blood cells, you may develop aplastic anemia, characterized by easy bruising, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
Anemia is a concern for people with low vitamin B-12 levels. There are several types of anemia, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, including vitamin deficiency anemia; aplastic anemia, caused when bone marrow loses its ability to produce blood cells; and anemia caused by interference from chronic disease. One of the most visible symptoms of anemia is bruising, along with fatigue, shortness of breath and dizziness. People with anemia are at increased risk for falls, fractures and bodily injury, according to CBS News Healthwatch. Anemic seniors are three times more likely to fall and get hurt compared to those with normal blood count levels.
Bruises will slowly go away, typically after a few weeks when the body reabsorbs the blood that was released by burst capillaries under the skin. Taking more vitamin B-12 is not a cure for bruising, but it can restore blood cell levels, which should result in fewer bruises. While you should talk to your doctor about treatment options, UMMC suggests that 1,000 micrograms vitamin B-12 injections for one or two weeks could help treat vitamin deficient and pernicious anemia. You can also take 1,000 to 2,000 micrograms of oral vitamin B-12 daily.
Preventing deficiency is the best way to eliminate bruising caused by anemia. The recommended dietary allowance is 2.4 micrograms for teens and adults over the age of 18, between 0.4 and 1.8 micrograms for newborns and youth up to age 13, and 2.6 to 2.8 micrograms for pregnant and breastfeeding women. People who eat a balanced, nutritious diet with plenty of meat and a variety of dairy products should be able to meet the RDA requirements without supplementation. Ten to 30 percent of adults over age 50, however, are at risk for inefficient nutrient absorption through their diet and need a vitamin B-12 supplement, according to UMM.
- National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin B-12
- Harvard Health Publications: Vitamin B-12 Deficiency Can Be Sneaky, Harmful
- National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Aplastic Anemia?
- CBS News Healthwatch: Anemia Raises Risk of Falls
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Anemia
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Learn More About Vitamin B12 Deficiency
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin B-12