Vitamins B12 and D3.

July 21, 2021

Vitamins B12 and D3.

May 29, 2023

Wisdom Well doesn't offer a lot of blog posts on our bodies and physical wellness. I feel that we're barraged enough with anti-aging messages, many of which can be exclamatory—take this or take that if you don't want to be a goner! I'm tired of those hyperbolic messages.

But many people I know with "body wisdom" have reminded me that there are two vitamin supplements that merit consideration, mainly because they often don't show up in even the midlife perfect diet. I'm cautious about recommending pills, not plants, but these two supplements are difficult to absorb in their natural form. Thanks to AARP Executive Editor Stephen Perrine for much of this material.

B12

B12 plays an essential role in nerve function, and a shortfall of B12 is associated with depression, dementia, and decreased cognitive function, as well as anemia. Animal products offer a lot of B12, but as we get older, our ability to absorb B12 is hindered by changes in our digestive systems, as our stomachs naturally begin to produce less stomach acid.

Antacids and diabetes medications can exacerbate the problem. Digestive issues such as celiac disease also can hinder our ability to access B12. The general term for these issues is "malabsorption." By age 65, as many as 4 in 10 adults may have gastric issues that hinder B12 absorption. The federal dietary guideline calls for a daily intake of 2.4 micrograms of B12 for all adults.

Vitamin D

Unless you're hanging out with me in Baja, you may be light on your sun-inspired vitamin D, which helps create a healthy immune system, protects us from cognitive decline, and was even proven to be helpful against Covid. Unfortunately, our ability to turn sunlight into vitamin D declines as we age. By age 70, our ability to produce vitamin D is about half of what it was at age 20. And unlike B12, Vitamin D is in scarce supply in our regular diets.

As vitamin D levels decline, the risk of Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and cognitive impairment rises. Vitamin D also serves as an "air traffic controller" for calcium, essential for bone health. In one study of adults 50 and older, all of whom had recently fractured bones, 43 percent were deficient in both calcium and vitamin D. 600 international units (IUs) daily of vitamin D is considered standard, and D3 is better than D2 because it metabolizes better.

Of course, consult your health professionals about any supplements you may take. Unfortunately, the hype around many pills is often bogus and preys upon our fear of aging.

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