How does vitamin B12 help to keep my bones healthy?

Vitamin B12 has an important role in bone-cell formation and function, and it helps keep homocysteine levels from rising and weakening bones. Deficiencies are linked with lower bone density. In fact, when Tufts University scientists measured the bone mineral density and blood levels of vitamin B12 in nearly 2,600 men and women, they found that among those with low B12 levels, women had less-dense bones in the spine and men had less-solid hip bones, putting both groups at risk for osteoporosis. Top vitamin B12 sources include poultry, seafood, eggs and nonfat dairy products like yogurt and milk.

Scientists are still trying to figure out the exact relationship between vitamin B12 and bone health. Vitamin B12 is involved in the synthesis of DNA, which is the genetic material found in all cells in the body, including bone cells. Vitamin B12 is also essential to the formation of red blood cells, which are formed in the bone marrow. Some research suggests that B12 may be involved in the function of the cells that build bone.

Deficiencies of vitamin B12 can cause anemia, a condition in which your body does not have enough red blood cells or the oxygen they carry, causing you to feel weak, tired and frail. Research from Tufts University suggests that people who have low blood levels of vitamin B12 also score lower on bone mineral density tests than people with higher levels of vitamin B12. People who are deficient due to pernicious anemia have a greater risk of bone fractures.

Although more study is needed, it's possible that taking vitamin B12 supplements may help prevent osteoporosis (the brittle-bone disease) in some people. Talk to your doctor about whether vitamin B12 supplements are recommended for you.

Continue Learning about Vitamin B12

How should my vitamin B12 levels be measured?
Robert J. Hedaya, MDRobert J. Hedaya, MD
Many physicians think that to assess B12 one must measure B12 levels. However, it is well-establishe...
More Answers
How can birth control pills lower my vitamin B12 levels?
Stacy Wiegman, PharmDStacy Wiegman, PharmD
The evidence that birth control pills may lower vitamin B12 levels is mixed. Some studies don't ...
More Answers
Should I Take Vitamin B12 Supplements?
Should I Take Vitamin B12 Supplements?
What Is the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of Vitamin B12?
What Is the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of Vitamin B12?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.