Hidden B12 Deficiency May Be Widespread

Vitamin B12 deficiency may be much more common thanpreviously thought, according to a recent government study. Using data fromabout 3,000 adults, aged 26 to 83, researchers found that almost 9% haddeficient blood levels, while 39% fell in the “low normal” range, alevel low enough to trigger the neurological symptoms typical of B12 deficiency.Low levels spanned all age groups, surprising the researchers. Previously, theelderly were thought to be at greatest risk.

Participants who took B12 supplements and those who atethe most dairy foods and fortified cereals had better B12 status than those whodidn’t. Most surprising, a high intake of meat, poultry and fish?foodsrichest in B12?was not linked to higher blood levels of the vitamin, possibly,the researchers speculate, because it is not as well absorbed from thosesources.

Agricultural Research Service, USDA, August 2, 2000.
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