Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that plays an integral role in the proper functioning of the brain, the nervous system as well as the formation of blood. Since the body stores approximately ~1 year’s worth of vitamin B12, the symptoms related to vitamin B12 deficiency only show up when the stores are severely depleted. Older adults are particularly at risk for this deficiency since they tend to eat less and sometimes lack adequate enzymes and stomach acid to free vitamin B12 that is bound to food. Being vegan exacerbates the issue as B12 rich sources are meat-based. More importantly, older adults that appear confused and forgetful could be mistaken as experiencing Alzheimers when, in fact, they are B12 deficient!
As part of my homework for FNH 370, I developed a screening tool for vitamin B12 deficiency. Although it was designed for older adults, feel free to give it a whirl by clicking on the images below!