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Low levels of B12 vitamins may lead to cognitive problems

Older people who have low levels of B12 vitamins may be more likely to have smaller brains and problems with their cognitive abilities, according to a new study published in the September 27 issue of Neurology.

Although researchers say that more examination of the findings is necessary, preliminary analysis of a study of 121 older adults from the south side of Chicago show that low levels of vitamin B12 and B12-related markers were associated with lower brain volume and lower scores on cognitive tests.

Researchers from Rush University Medical Center drew blood from the 121 participants to measure the levels of the nutrients. They then took memory and cognitive tests. An average of four and a half years later, the MRI scans of the participants' brains measured total brain volume and other brain damage.

The study showed that having high levels of four of the five markers for vitamin B12 deficiency was connected with lower scores on cognitive tests and smaller brain volume overall.

These vitamins are found in foods that come from animals like fish, meat, milk and eggs.