We have more than enough to worry about as we age, so wouldn’t it be nice to solve at least one problem before it happens, or correct it if it already has? This probably sounds like a no-brainer, and with recent advances in medical knowledge, it’s even easier to arm yourself with information to make sure you age gracefully.
Not much was understood about the relationship between B vitamins and aging until somewhat recently, but it is becoming rather clear with recent discoveries that there is likely some kind of connection worth exploring.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency and Age
One thing to be keenly aware of is that as you get up there in years, your body looses some of its ability to absorb and process vitamin B12 from your diet. This can lead to a number of symptoms, like anemia, (which often manifests as sluggishness, generalized weakness, and fatigue), muscle weakness, shakiness, incontinence, unsteady gait, low blood pressure, fatigue, cognitive problems (including poor memory), and mood disorders like depression, mood swings, etc. A vast majority of these symptoms, save for anemia, will generally be simply dismissed as “signs of aging.” This can be avoided by simply taking a vitamin B12 supplement.
B Vitamin Myths
The only solid evidence for a connection between B vitamins and aging is that our bodies grow less proficient at absorbing vitamin B12 as we grow older, and this should probably be corrected for. You should be skeptical of any other claims, such as purported links between overloading on B vitamins and improved skin appearance and health. In fact, overdosing on some B vitamins can cause serious side effects. Too much vitamin B-3 (Niacin) can cause skin flushing, pain, liver toxicity, and high blood sugar. Too much vitamin B-6 can cause nerve damage and skin lesions. Too much B-9 (aka Folate or Folic Acid) can cause kidney damage, and can mask the presence of a B-12 deficiency, if you have one. Too much vitamin B-12 can cause acne and rosacea in some. Of course, deficiencies have nasty side effects too, but taking way more than necessary is, as you can see, more harmful than helpful.
In short, definitely do take a vitamin B-12 supplement to prevent deficiency as you age, but don’t take more than 100% DV on B12 or any other B vitamins, or almost any vitamins, for that matter.
As ever, a healthy dose of doubt is always helpful in discerning fact from fiction, whether in skincare, overall health, or life in general. And when in doubt, see if you can find a consensus of expert opinion—which means a majority of experts are in agreement, not just one or two—and/or double-blind controlled-variable clinical studies. If you can’t find either, take the claim as an unknown possibility at best, and falsification at worst.