Vitamin B-12 helps maintain healthy nerve cells and red blood cells. A vitamin B-12 deficiency — most common in older adults and vegetarians — can cause various signs and symptoms, including memory loss. In such cases, vitamin B-12 supplements can help improve memory.
In the absence of a vitamin B-12 deficiency, there's no evidence that vitamin B-12 supplements enhance memory for people who have Alzheimer's disease. Still, vitamin B-12 remains an important part of a healthy diet.
Vitamin B-12 is found naturally in foods that come from animals, including fish, meat and poultry. Many breakfast cereals are fortified with vitamin B-12 as well. If you're concerned that you're not getting enough vitamin B-12 or other specific nutrients, consult your doctor — especially if you're an older adult or a vegetarian.
Jan. 06, 2011
- Dietary supplement fact sheet: Vitamin B12. Office of Dietary Supplements. http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/vitaminB12/. Accessed Nov. 8, 2010.
- Van Dyck CH, et al. Cognitive and psychiatric effects of vitamin B12 replacement in dementia with low serum B12 levels: A nursing home study. International Psychogeriatrics. 2009;21:138.
- Lin YT, et al. Regular vitamin B12 supplementation among older Chinese men in a veterans care home in Taiwan. Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics. 2009;49:186.
- Hvas AM, et al. No effect of vitamin B-12 treatment on cognitive function and depression: A randomized placebo controlled study. Journal of Affective Disorders. 2004;81:269.