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Residents of long-term care homes usually suffer from B12 deficiency

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Posted January 20, 2016

B12 vitamin is important for haematopoiesis and for healthy nervous system. However, maintaining good levels of B12 is not always easy, especially with age. Scientists from the University of Waterloo have conducted a research and found that a significant proportion of older adults entering long-term care homes in Ontario, Canada, have deficient B12. Furthermore, over some time even more adults develop B12 deficiency.

Elderly people entering long-term care homes usually have B12 deficiency, which may lead to anaemia and neurologic problems. Image credit: Magnus Fröderberg/norden.org via Wikimedia, CC BY 2.5 dk

Elderly people entering long-term care homes usually have B12 deficiency, which may lead to anaemia and neurologic problems. Image credit: Magnus Fröderberg/norden.org via Wikimedia, CC BY 2.5 dk

Study revealed that as much as 14% of adults entering long-term care homes are B12 deficient. Furthermore, another 38% of people at the time of admission to a long-term care home have only a little higher B12 levels. Despite the fact that in these places specialists are taking care of these patients, over the course of one year additional 4% of people develop B12 deficiency. Study also showed that there is a simple solution to the problem – elderly people who are getting B12 supplements can avoid deficiency and health problems related to it.

Scientists say that study reveals the local problem – long-term care homes in Ontario do not test entering elderlies for B12 deficiency. It means that simple blood test done yearly and prescribed supplements could help these elderly people avoid many health problems.

Heather Keller, one of the authors of the study, said: “The negative effects of a B12 deficiency are considerable. This is of particular importance in the context of our aging population with more Canadians requiring long-term care”. B12 deficiency can lead to anaemia and even cause such neurologic complications as unsteady gait and paralysis. Furthermore, people who suffer from insufficient B12 levels can develop depression and dementia, increased confusion, lethargy and even osteoporosis.

It is really easy to avoid all these problems related to B12 deficiency. This study revealed a simple truth, which could be uncovered by yearly blood tests in long-term care homes. These places should ensure comfortable living conditions and good health care and hopefully results of this study will encourage them to do simple tests and prescribe supplements.

Source: uwaterloo.ca

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