Water-soluble vitamin B12, also known as cyanocobalamin, is necessary for proper adrenal gland function, nerve tissue health, and red blood cell production. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the findings of a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2004 that indicated one out of 31 adults over the age of 51 has insufficient vitamin B12 levels. The deficiency also affects more than five percent of adults over the age of 65. Vitamin B12 is particularly important for older adults because the body doesn’t absorb the nutrient as efficiently with age.
As they grow older, seniors can develop various nutritional deficiencies and other serious health conditions. Maintaining a high quality of life can be challenging for some seniors, but professional caregivers can help them obtain this goal. Families can trust Harrisburg senior care experts to help their elderly loved ones focus on lifestyle choices that increase the chances of living a longer and healthier life.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency Symptoms
Seniors lacking adequate levels of vitamin B12 can experience pernicious anemia, which causes unexplained fatigue, rapid heart rate, joint pain, and difficulty breathing. B12-deficient seniors also commonly display memory loss and other symptoms of cognitive impairment, which may be mistaken for Alzheimer’s or mental illness. Cognitive symptoms range from confusion and depression to hallucinations and paranoia. Other symptoms include numbness or tingling in the extremities, lack of physical coordination, an inflamed and swollen tongue, and jaundice. Although symptoms may initially be hardly noticeable, over time, they can progress and the deficiency can become more severe.
A dedicated caregiver can monitor your loved one for symptoms of a B12 deficiency. Seniors who want to remain healthy as they age can benefit in a variety of ways when they receive professional homecare services. 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.
Increasing Vitamin B12 Intake
People over the age of 14 should be getting at least 2.4 micrograms of the nutrient daily. Seniors have options for boosting their intake of B12 in the following five ways.
1. Dairy Products
Having a bowl of fortified cereal is an easy way to get B12. Whole-grain products typically provide 25 to 100 percent of the daily recommended requirement. Adding low-fat milk, skim milk, or yogurt to dry cereal increases the amount of B12 by an additional 15 to 20 percent. Eating a couple of eggs and a dairy product is another great way to get the nutrient.
Lean beef is a rich source of vitamin B12. Consider buffalo meat as an alternative. Buffalo meat is naturally lower in calories, saturated fat, and total fat content while providing seniors with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Grass-fed organic beef is another good source of B12.
Including four to five ounces of salmon, sardines, or trout in a lunch or dinner meal is a great way to boost B12 levels. Clams are another option. Three ounces of clams provide 100 percent of the recommended level of the vitamin, and they’re also a wonderful source of iron, selenium, zinc, and protein.
4. Nutritional Yeast
Vegans, vegetarians, and seniors who don’t eat red meat might consider supplementing their diets with nutritional yeast. Add one tablespoon to casseroles or other foods to boost daily intake. Although some plant foods provide small amounts of vitamin B12, nutritional yeast is a better alternative.
The majority of over-the-counter multivitamins contain vitamin B12, folic acid, and other B vitamins. Sublingual supplements dissolve when placed under the tongue. Seniors with severe deficiencies are often prescribed supplementation via vitamin B12 injections. Other prescription options include nasal gels that contain the vitamin.
If your loved one requires motivation to eat healthy and take his or her medications and supplements on time, consider hiring a professional caregiver. Living independently is important for seniors who want to maintain a high quality of life. For some, this simply means receiving help with tasks that have become more challenging to manage over time. Even when families have the best intentions, they may not have the time to provide the care their elderly loved ones need and deserve. If your loved one needs help for a few hours a day or a few days a week, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a trusted provider of respite care Harrisburg seniors can depend on. To learn about our premier in-home care plans and how they can help your loved one, give us a call at (717) 540-4663 today.