Vegetarians and the Elderly & Risk of Developing B12 Deficiency

B vitamins don’t get the attention they deserve. They are overshadowed by the top nutrient deficiency worldwide – iron, and the still emerging complete picture on vitamin D. And, testing for vitamin B deficiencies is not common. Therefore, a person really needs to notice the signs and symptoms of a deficiency and ask their physician about being tested or supplementing.

Vitamin B12 deficiency is characterized by difficulty maintaining balance, depression, confusion, dementia, fatigue, weakness, constipation, loss of appetite, and weight loss, poor memory, soreness of the mouth or tongue. However, many of these symptoms are also characteristic of other medical conditions as well.

And, there are a few groups of people who have a higher risk of developing a vitamin B12 deficiency:

• Vegans (and some vegetarians) who do not take a multivitamin

• Older adults – 1-2% of older adults do not have a protein typically found in the stomach lining called intrinsic factor, which is necessary for our bodies to absorb B12. This condition is called pernicious anemia.

• Celiac or Crohn’s disease patients

• Weight loss surgery patients – people who have had surgery to remove all or part of their stomach secrete less hydrochloric acid and intrinsic factor (a protein necessary for B12 absorption).

• Strict vegetarians, especially vegans – B12 is only found naturally in animal based foods though fortified breakfast cereals and a few other fortified foods also contain B12. Because strict vegetarians and vegans have little to no B12 intake, they often need nutritional supplements for essential nutrients.

If you are at risk of B12 deficiency and/or you take folic acid, be careful about consuming too much folic acid – a supplement often recommended to pregnant women and those with a history of cardiovascular disease, especially in the absence of upping your B12 intake. Excess intake of folic acid can mask a B12 deficiency. If your doctor told you that you needed more folic acid, ask if you should be taking a B complex instead or in addition to folic acid. A deficiency of either of these vitamins can lead to anemia.

Look for a high quality multivitamin supplement that includes a Complete B-Complex plus the essential vitamins A, C, E, and D.  Try the new liquid multivitamin that’s easy to swallow and fast absorbing too.  Great for kids and adults! 

Do You Need Mega Vitamins or are they a Mega Rip-off?

More isn’t always better. And in fact, when it comes to vitamins and minerals, you want to get enough for good health but more than what you need will not cure, prevent or treat any ailment or disease. According to the FDA, “high potency” can be used on the label of a multivitamin/mineral supplement if at least two-thirds of its nutrients contain at least 100% of the daily value. Therefore, while “high potency” may be okay, mega may mean a mega rip-off if you are paying more for the supplement.

Now, what about the special formulas targeted to seniors, women, men or kids?

The doses of vitamins and minerals in children’s vitamins and vitamin supplements for seniors are, or should be, adjusted for these specific age groups. However, it is up to the company to decide what they are going to put in each of those formulas. There is no standard definition or regulation determining what should go in a specialized formula.

So, be a sleuth and take a look at what you are getting and, be realistic about whether or not you are actually going to take it. Consider the dose, usage recommendations (with food, or on an empty stomach) and form of the supplement (liquid, pill, tablet, soft gel or chew) and how many doses you need per day.

Look for a high quality liquid multivitamin nutritional supplement that contains at least 100% of the daily value of the B Complex vitamins, and essential vitamins such as A, C, E, & D.  Taking all these nutrients each day will ensure you are getting at least the minimum amounts you need each day. 

Benefits of Liquid Nutritional Supplements


People are particular about their supplements and by all means, they should be.  Certain kinds of fish oil supplements can leave you with bad fishy burps and many iron supplements can leave you constipated.


So why should someone choose liquid over tablet, capsule or chewable? Many times it is a matter of preference, but consider:


  • Liquid supplements are easy to take – no hard pill making it’s way down your throat, and liquid supplements can be mixed into things like your morning juice, bottled water or post-workout smoothie!


  • Your compliance with liquid supplements may be better – meaning that you actually continue to take them (some people stop taking pills once they find it’s unpleasant).


  •  You don’t have to worry about liquid supplements making their way into your system, they will, quickly and completely; some tablets may not be broken down very well within your body and therefore not absorbed quickly or completely.


As always, the type of supplement you choose should depend on personal preference and compliance – what will you continue to take on a regular basis. Because, after all, if you don’t continue taking it regularly, there’s really no point in buying it to begin with!


If you are tired of swallowing yet another pill, try taking a liquid supplement instead.  It does make taking your essential supplements each day a little easier.