Intake of B vitamins and impairment in physical function in older adults

Clin Nutr. 2018 Aug;37(4):1271-1278. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2017.05.016. Epub 2017 May 23.


Background: The effect of vitamin B intake on physical function is not well known.

Objective: To examine the prospective association of the intake of vitamins B6, B12 and folate with physical function impairment in older adults.

Methods: We performed a prospective cohort study with 1630 participants from the Seniors-ENRICA study, a cohort of community-dwelling adults aged ≥60 years who were free of physical function impairment at baseline. In 2008-2010, nutrient intake was obtained through a validated computer-assisted face-to-face diet history. Study participants were followed-up through 2012 to assess incident impairment in agility and mobility, as well as impairment in overall physical functioning, defined as a decrease in the physical component summary of the 12-Item Short-Form Health Survey.

Results: Over a median follow-up of 3.5 years, we identified 343 individuals with agility limitation, 212 with mobility limitation, and 457 with decreased overall physical functioning. A significant association was observed between intake of vitamin B6 and lower risk of impaired mobility (odds ratio [OR] for highest vs. lowest tertile: 0.66; 95% confidence interval [CI]:0.44-0.99; p-trend = 0.05). The results lost significance when additionally adjusted for vitamin B12 and folate, however the OR did not materially change. A higher consumption of important sources of vitamin B6, such as fish or fruit, was also related to a lower risk of impaired mobility (OR 100-g increase in fish: 0.50; 95% CI: 0.32-0.79; OR 100-g increase in fruit: 0.92; 95% CI: 0.84-1.01). No association was found between vitamin B12 and folate intake and physical function.

Conclusions: A higher intake of vitamin B6 and of several of its main sources, such as fish and fruit, was associated with lower risk of impaired mobility in Spanish older adults.

Keywords: Agility; B-vitamins; Elderly; Mobility; Physical functioning.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Diet / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Folic Acid / analysis
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mobility Limitation*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Vitamin B 12 / analysis
  • Vitamin B 6 / analysis
  • Vitamin B Complex / analysis*


  • Vitamin B Complex
  • Vitamin B 6
  • Folic Acid
  • Vitamin B 12