Vitamin B12 deficiency and dementia.


Cunha UG, Rocha FL, Peixoto JM




Int Psychogeriatr


We set out to investigate the possible beneficial effects on cognitive function of demented patients with cobalamin deficiency after cobalamin replacement. A total of 181 consecutive, demented (DSM-III or DSM-III-R criteria and score below 24 on the Mini-Mental State Examination [MMSE]) outpatients (mean age 77.5 years) were prospectively evaluated and had their vitamin B12 level measured by radioimmunoassay. The frequency of vitamin B12 deficiency (less than 200 pg/mliter) was 25% (46 patients). Treatment outcome was obtained in 19 patients (19 of 46). Despite cobalamin replacement, 16 of 19 patients persisted in showing progressive decline during follow-up visits (3 to 24 months). The nonresponse to vitamin B12 replacement in most cases seems to reflect the presence of associated irreversible dementia or a follow-up of shorter duration in a few patients. All of the patients who showed some improvement (MMSE returned to normal values) had mild dementia with a history of less than 2 years. Thus, screening for B12 deficiency should be considered in patients with recent onset of mild mental status changes.