Serum B12 levels and bone loss in Older Women.




J Clin Endocrinol Metab

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Cobalamin is the common name of vitamin B12 because it contains the heavy metal cobalt, which gives this water-soluble vitamin its red color. Vitamin B12 is essential for growth and plays a role in metabolism within cells, especially those of the gastrointestinal tract, bone marrow and nervous tissue. On the cellular level, Vitamin B12 plays an important role in the replication of DNA while supporting growth of the body's cells. The vitamin is also vital for the function and maintenance of the nervous system and red blood cells. Vitamin B12 is instrumental in the body's metabolism of protein, fat and carbohydrates.

Vitamin B12 is not found in plants, but it is produced by bacteria in the digestive tract of animals, which explains why animal protein products are the only dietary source of this nutrient. Organ meats are the best source of vitamin B12, followed by clams, oysters, beef, eggs, milk, chicken and cheese.

Recently published in The Journal of Endocrinology & Metabolism, researchers investigated the blood levels of vitamin B12 in older women in relation to bone loss. Bone mineral density of the hip and vitamin B12 levels were measured in white women aged 65 years or older. After 2 years, the BMD was measured again. After adjusting for age and weight the researchers found that women with lower vitamin B12 levels had a greater risk of bone loss. Those with higher levels showed less bone loss. The researchers concluded that lower levels of B12 are associated with increased rates of bone loss in the hip in older women.1


1.Stone KL, et al. Low Serum Vitamin B-12 Levels Are Associated with Increased Hip Bone Loss in Older Women: A Prospective Study. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. March 2004;89(3):1217-1221.