Vitamin B-12 and Cognition in Children

Adv Nutr. 2016 Sep 15;7(5):879-88. doi: 10.3945/an.115.012021. Print 2016 Sep.


Vitamin B-12 is essential for brain development, neural myelination, and cognitive function. Inadequate vitamin B-12 status during pregnancy and early childhood has been associated with adverse child health outcomes, including impaired cognitive development. However, the underlying mechanisms have not been elucidated. This review was conducted to examine the evidence that links vitamin B-12 and cognition in children. The search strategy resulted in 17 studies: 3 cross-sectional, 1 case-control, and 12 cohort studies, and 1 randomized trial. Cognitive processes assessed included attention, memory, and perception. Developmental outcomes, academic performance, and intelligence quotient were also considered. Despite the high prevalence of vitamin B-12 insufficiency and associated risk of adverse cognitive outcomes in children, to our knowledge, no studies to date have been conducted to examine the effects of vitamin B-12 supplementation on cognition in children. The role of vitamin B-12 in the etiology of child cognitive outcomes needs to be elucidated to inform public health interventions.

Keywords: brain; child; cobalamin; cognition; vitamin B-12.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attention / drug effects
  • Child
  • Child Development / drug effects*
  • Child Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Cognition / drug effects*
  • Cognition Disorders / blood
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Humans
  • Memory / drug effects
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Vitamin B 12 / blood
  • Vitamin B 12 / pharmacology*
  • Vitamin B 12 Deficiency / blood
  • Vitamin B 12 Deficiency / complications*


  • Vitamin B 12