August 31, 2000
BOSTON--After completing the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Agriculture Research Service's Framingham Offspring study, researchers were surprised to find a vitamin B12 deficiency in young and old people. "[In the elderly, vitamin] B12 deficiency has been linked to dementia in [the deficiency's] most extreme form," said Katherine Tucker, the study's leader and nutritional epidemiologist at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center at Tufts University.
During the study, Tucker and her colleagues noted that the youngest group [26- to 49-year-olds] had similar B12 levels as the older groups [50- to 64-year-olds and 65- to 83-year-olds]. According to the research, as people age, they naturally lose acid-secreting cells that break B12 down into absorbable amounts; Tucker speculated that some younger people currently consume a large amount of antacids [including some less potent forms, e.g. calcium supplements] which may have led to B12 deficiency. More research needs to be done in this area, and additional studies on B12 will come out later this year. For more information, visit www.hnrc.tufts.edu.
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