Why should I take vitamin B12 supplements as I age?

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As people age, their stomachs produce less of the digestive acids that draw vitamin B12 out of the foods they eat, which can lead to a deficiency. Older people are also more likely to take drugs that reduce the amounts of this acid, such as the diabetes drug metformin. Supplementing with B12 is a way to boost levels back to normal.

A vitamin B12 deficiency can cause a problem called pernicious anemia, in which a person isn't able to make enough red blood cells. Taking B12 supplements is especially critical in that case. 
Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
As we age, we may need to take vitamin B12 supplements to get the recommended amount. This is because as we age, we often have more difficulty absorbing B12 from food. Absorption of B12 in food requires a substance from our stomachs called intrinsic factor, which decreases with age. However, the B12 in multivitamins does not need intrinsic factor for absorption.

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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.