Why Women Over 50 Need Vitamin B12 Supplements

By on September 30, 2015
why women over 50 need vitamin B12

By Kashaf Ali−

When we talk about the additional nutrition women need as they cross into their fifties, we tend to focus on the need for Vitamins C and D – after all, older women are at significantly greater risk for heart disease and osteoporosis, if they ignore these important substances. But one vitamin that often gets lost in the chatter is B12; a B vitamin that most of us don’t even know we need. Yet Vitamin B12 is one of the most essential nutritional requirements for older women – and they need it in the form of supplements.

Your body needs Vitamin B12 for its most basic functions

Your body requires Vitamin B12 to create blood and enable brain function. Vitamin B12 manufactures the cells that transport blood from the heart to the rest of your body, and builds the DNA and nerves you need to think and operate all your life. Because the average adult requires just 2.4 mg of Vitamin B12 a day, having enough Vitamin B12 to keep your body well-oiled and running shouldn’t be hard to get – but your body can’t make Vitamin B12 on its own.

To work as it should, your body needs to get Vitamin B12 from other sources, such as meat, eggs, milk and yogurt.

But these sources might not work, once you cross 50

If you’re over 50, it’s safe to assume your body can’t do the best job of absorbing Vitamin B12 from its natural sources – our bodies require a certain amount of stomach acid to extract Vitamin B12 from food, and individuals over 50 tend to lack this stomach acid. In fact, according to The Nutrition Source, up to 30% of adults over 50 find it difficult to obtain Vitamin B12 from its natural sources. And most of them aren’t even aware of it!

In practice, this means that even if you consciously consume the right kinds of foods, you won’t be able to get your daily requirement of Vitamin B12.

What happens when you don’t get enough Vitamin B12?

Research shows that a lack of Vitamin B12 can result in damage to or loss of cognitive function – some women receiving treatment for diseases like dementia or Alzheimer’s are actually struggling with fixable Vitamin B12 deficiencies, says The Nutrition Source. Memory loss, disorientation, hallucinations and paranoia are just a few of the debilitating conditions that women who are low on Vitamin B12 struggle with. Other problems include:

  • Numbness in the hands, legs and feet
  • Problems walking and balancing oneself
  • Anemia
  • Fatigue
  • Yellowed skin and jaundice

How to treat Vitamin B12 deficiency?

Up to 20% of older adults are borderline Vitamin B12 deficient. If you are over 50 years old, use the diabetes drug metformin, or take an H2 blocker like Pepcid or Zantac, The Harvard Health Blog suggests you ask your medical provider to check your B12 level. Meanwhile, for all women over 50, the Institute of Medicine recommends taking a good, standard Vitamin B12 supplement. Women with serious Vitamin B12 deficiencies can seek weekly vitamin shots, or take high-dose B12 pills every day, as prescribed by a doctor.

For older women, it’s important to get started on their Vitamin B12 supplements before they become vitamin-deficient. Getting enough Vitamin B12 will not just help them steer clear of cognitive decline as they get older, it will help them maintain healthy hair, glowing skin, and an independent, active lifestyle.


Kashaf Ud Duja Ali is a risk manager by profession, and a women’s blogger by passion. She is always on the lookout for creating, promoting and leveraging spaces in which women – of all ages, from all locations – can network, learn and grow. You can follow her on twitter @kashafalii,a platform she’s still trying to figure out!

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Why Women Over 50 Need Vitamin B12 Supplements