Depression and lethargy can be signs of a vitamin B12 deficiency, research finds.
Vitamin B12 deficiency is easy to rectify with supplements or by dietary changes.
The body uses vitamin B12 to make red blood cells and to keep the nervous system healthy.
Other common signs of vitamin B12 deficiency include experiencing muscle weakness and being constipated.
Over half the people in the study had a vitamin B12 deficiency.
Professor Heather Keller, the study co-author, said:
“The negative effects of a B12 deficiency are considerable.
This is of particular importance in the context of our aging population with more Canadians requiring long-term care.”
The study included 412 older people entering care homes.
Just over half had low vitamin B12 levels, with 14 percent being deficient.
Kaylen Pfisterer, the study’s first author, said:
“In spending time in long-term care homes, you often see depression and loneliness.
This is why we need to do everything in our power to enhance quality of life and quality of care in this setting.
Screening for B12 deficiency is a first step to targeting B12 treatment to those who may benefit most.”
Vitamin B12 levels can be boosted through supplementation or by eating foods such as dairy, liver, salmon and eggs.
The study was published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism (Pfisterer et al., 2019).