According to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, around 15 percent of seniors over 60 don’t get the recommended 2.4 daily micrograms of vitamin B12 from food sources, which is compounded by the body’s increased difficulty absorbing the vitamin with age. You already know the importance of a well-balanced diet for seniors, and here’s how vitamin B12 plays a critical role in supporting healthy eating and overall wellbeing in the golden years.
Benefits of Vitamin B12
Research conducted by the Chicago Health and Aging Project tested the B12 levels of more than 120 seniors and tracked how regular consumption of B12 affected memory and thinking skills over a four-year period. The results of the study, published in Neurology, shared MRI images of the participants’ brains and concluded low levels of B12 were associated with smaller brain volume and were six times as likely to cause brain atrophy over time.
Along with increased brain functioning and thinking skills, B12 is important for:
- Long-lasting energy
- Healthy immune and nervous systems
- Hormone balance
- Nerve function
- Protein synthesis
- Red blood cell production
Other research has found B12 also plays a role in reducing the incidence of cancer, heart disease, age-related macular degeneration, and strokes in older adults.
Reduced Risk of Anemia
Vitamin B12 is essential for creating red blood cells, which are responsible for making sure the body gets enough oxygen. When there aren’t enough red blood cells in the bloodstream, your loved one may feel tired, have difficulty taking deep breaths, or experience brain fog. Eventually, a person with anemia may have pale or jaundiced skin. Any of these symptoms should be a cause for concern and a trip to the doctor.
A dedicated caregiver can monitor your loved one for symptoms of B12 deficiency. Seniors who want to remain healthy as they age can benefit in a variety of ways when they receive professional homecare. Home Care Assistance is here to help your loved one accomplish daily tasks, prevent illness, and focus on living a healthier and more fulfilling life.
Lower Chances f Nerve Damage
One long-term issue that can have serious consequences is damage to the nerves, which are protected by a fatty substance called myelin. Without enough B12, the body can’t produce myelin, which can lead to issues with the nervous system and eventually a loss of mobility. Early warning signs include pins-and-needles sensations in the hands and feet as well as difficulty walking or loss of balance and coordination. While more common in the body’s lower half, this type of nerve damage can occur all over the body, including in the eyes, which can lead to impaired vision.
There are a variety of age-related health conditions that can make it more challenging for seniors to live independently. However, many of the challenges they face can be easier to manage if their families opt for professional senior care. Pembroke Pines families can rely on expertly trained caregivers to keep their loved ones safe and comfortable while aging in place.
Prevention of Depression & Dementia
A lack of B12 can lead to issues with mood and brain function because it can affect the amount of homocysteine in the brain. Some studies have shown a direct correlation between depression and a lack of B12. More serious cases may even lead to dementia. If you notice your loved one is experiencing frequent mood changes, it may be time to talk to his or her doctor about a B12 test.
If your senior loved one needs professional dementia care, Pembroke Pines caregivers are available around the clock to provide the high-quality care he or she needs. Using the revolutionary Cognitive Therapeutics Method, dementia caregivers can help your loved one stay mentally engaged and delay the progression of the disease.
Boosting B12 in a Senior’s Diet
Dietitians recommend older adults avoid getting vitamin B12 from supplements and instead turn to food sources such as:
- Lean meats such as chicken and turkey
- Salmon, trout, and mackerel
- Eggs and low-fat dairy products
- Fortified cereals and soy products (tofu)
Family caregivers should make sure their loved ones get plenty of B12 in their diets. If you need additional help providing the care your loved one needs, hiring a home caregiver is a wonderful option. Not every senior has the same care needs, which means they don’t all need the same type of senior care. Pembroke Pines families can rely on Home Care Assistance to provide individualized care plans to meet your elderly loved one’s unique care needs. Our holistic Balanced Care Method was designed to help seniors focus on healthy lifestyle habits such as eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and maintaining strong social ties, and our Cognitive Therapeutics Method offers mentally stimulating activities that can stave off cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia. Call us today at (954) 374-8273 to discuss how we can give you the peace of mind that comes from knowing your loved one is being cared for with professionalism and compassion.