Mental confusion can be a sign of vitamin B12 deficiency, research suggests.
People with a B12 deficiency can have problems with their memory and concentration.
Depression symptoms like low mood and low energy are also linked to the deficiency.
Low levels of vitamin B12 can even contribute to brain shrinkage, other studies have suggested.
Around one-in-eight people over 50 are low in vitamin B12 levels, recent research finds.
The rates of deficiency are even higher in those who are older.
Fortunately, these deficiencies are easy to rectify with diet or supplementation.
Good dietary sources of vitamin B12 include fish, poultry, eggs and low-fat milk.
Fortified breakfast cereals also contain vitamin B12.
People who may have difficulty getting enough vitamin B12 include vegetarians, older people and those with some digestive disorders, such as Crohn’s disease.
One study has found that high doses of B vitamins can help reduce the symptoms of schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia is one of the most serious types of mental illness.
It can cause delusions, hallucinations, confused thinking and dramatic changes in behaviour.
The study reviewed 18 different clinical trials, including 832 patients.
It found that high doses of B vitamins helped reduce the symptoms of schizophrenia.
The vitamins were particularly effective if used early on in treatment.
Dr Joseph Firth, the study’s lead author, said:
“Looking at all of the data from clinical trials of vitamin and mineral supplements for schizophrenia to date, we can see that B vitamins effectively improve outcomes for some patients.
This could be an important advance, given that new treatments for this condition are so desperately needed.”
Professor Jerome Sarris, study co-author, said:
“This builds on existing evidence of other food-derived supplements, such as certain amino-acids, been beneficial for people with schizophrenia.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Psychological Medicine (Firth et al., 2017).