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Vitamin B12 level good indicator of bone health
Researchers at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston discovered a link between plasma B12 levels and bone density. Low bone mineral density is associated with osteoporosis, a disease that leads to increased fractures, disability and greater mortality. The report was published in the January 2005 issue of the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research (http://www.jbmr-online.org/).
Director of the Dietary Assessment and Epidemiology Research Program at the Jean Mayer USDA, Katherine Tucker, PhD, and colleagues examined data from 2,576 men and women who participated in the Framingham Offspring Osteoporosis Study. The study population, consisting of the children and spouses of the original Framingham study participants, had their bone mineral density measured between 1996 and 2001. Blood samples drawn during this period were analyzed for plasma vitamin B12.
It was found that subjects whose vitamin B12 levels were below 250 picograms per milliliter had lower average bone mineral density than those whose B12 levels were higher, putting them at greater risk of developing osteoporosis. Women whose B12 levels were low had notably low bone mineral density in the spine, while men with low B12 showed lower bone density in the hip.
The authors note that the loss of stomach acidity that occurs in many older individuals is associated with impaired absorption of protein-bound vitamin B12 from food, and that unbound vitamin B12 in vitamin supplements is better absorbed. It is particularly important for individuals taking acid blockers to obtain adequate B12 from supplements or from foods that have been fortified with the vitamin.
Dr Tucker commented, “This is the first large scale study of its kind to show an association between low vitamin B12 and low bone mineral density in men and it confirms other reports of this association in women. It shows that getting enough vitamin B12 from meats, poultry, fish and dairy products may be important for both men and women in maintaining strong bones. Some individuals, particularly older people, have difficulty absorbing vitamin B12 from foods, however, and inclusion of breakfast cereals fortified with vitamin B12 or use of vitamin B12 supplements offers additional protection."