Research Highlight

Vital B12 for old age heart

doi:10.1038/nindia.2012.62 Published online 30 April 2012

Vitamin B12 could be a promising supplement to correct heart rate variability (HRV) — the physiological phenomenon where the time interval between heart beats varies — among the elderly, a new study has found. Reduced HRV is a known predictor of mortality after myocardial infarction.

Data on vitamin B12 deficiency among elderly Indians is lacking. Vegetarianism and poor absorption related to gastro-intestinal parasites compounds the problem among Indians.

The researchers assessed cardiac sympathetic and parasympathetic activity using heart rate variability (HRV) in healthy elderly individuals of low and high vitamin B12 status and evaluated the effect of vitamin B12 supplementation for three months in those with low vitamin B12 status.

140 elderly people over 60 years of age were screened along with 47 healthy subjects. They underwent blood sampling, anthropometry, HRV and nerve conduction assessment. They were classified into 'deplete vitamin B12' and 'replete vitamin B12' groups.

Elderly subjects with low vitamin B12 status underwent cyanocobalamin supplementation (100 μg) for 3 months. Low frequency (LF) HRV was found to be significantly lower in the low vitamin B12 group. Following supplementation, it rose significantly as compared to pre-supplementation values.

The researchers found that elderly people with lower vitamin B12 status had reduced low frequency HRV suggestive of sympathetic involvement.


  1. Sucharita, S. et al. Vitamin B12 supplementation improves heart rate variability in healthy elderly Indian subjects. Auton. Neurosci-Basic 168, 66-71 (2012) | Article |