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Brain size, memory may be influenced by vitamin B12

From regular exercise to eating certain foods, there are a number of things baby boomers can do to prevent the age-related brain shrinkage that affects many adults, and results of a recent study provide a more specific look at exactly what they can do.

Scientists at Rush University in Chicago found that vitamin B12 levels may have a direct correlation to both brain size and memory problems. Researchers analyzed the level of B12 in 121 adults over 65 and found that those who were deficient in the nutrient were more likely to have both smaller brains and perform poorly on memory-related tests, AARP reports.

Despite the findings, researchers said it is still rather difficult to diagnose B12 deficiency in adults. Specifically, while it may not present itself in the blood, subjects could still be deficient in their tissues.

"It's an important study, because it seems to suggest that just checking for serum B12 levels in elderly patients is probably not enough," Daniel C. Potts, a clinical professor of neurology, told the organization.

Of course, just knowing about the mental health benefits of B12 are not enough. Luckily, there are a number of ways for you to reap the benefits of the nutrient. Many people opt to get B12 in the form of dietary supplements, and while that is certainly an effective option there are plenty of foods that have the vitamin as well.

Shellfish such as clams, mussels and oysters are all rich in B12, but the vitamin is also present in beef and dairy products. Still, there are some people who may eat enough of the foods but their bodies may not be absorbing the nutrient due to certain prescription medications.

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