Children Who Lack Vitamin B12 Perform Poorly in Cognitive Tests

Now here’s a vitamin you got to pay attention to — Vitamin B12. Found mainly in animal products such as fish, shellfish, meat, eggs, and dairy products, a new study concludes that children lacking in vitamin B12 have more difficulty in carrying out cognitive tasks such as completing puzzles, recognizing letters and interpreting other children’s feelings .

The study has been published online in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Researchers at Uni Research in Bergen, Norway collected blood samples from 500 infants in Bhaktapur, Nepal, to measure their B12 status. In low-income countries such as Nepal, and in particular in South Asia, where many eat limited amounts of meat and other animal products, poor vitamin B12 status is prevalent.

Around five years after collecting the samples, the team contacted 320 of the children and gave them various developmental and cognitive tests to complete. The results showed that poor B12 status as a baby was associated with a decrease in test scores at 5 years of age, with children showing difficulties in interpreting complex geometrical figures, and the ability to recognize other children’s emotions.

The findings suggest that a vitamin B12 deficiency impairs, or possibly delays, brain development in small children, with the results supporting previous research that also suggested that vitamin B12 is important for the developing brain.