Necessary action on vitamin B12 deficiency in people who follow plant-based diets

Necessary action on vitamin B12 deficiency in people who follow plant-based diets

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Plant-based diets (vegetarian or vegan) are becoming significantly more popular as people seek to adopt a diet that is deemed best for the environment, animal welfare, and / or personal health. Plant-based food sales have seen a 49 percent increase in Western Europe since 2018.

Scientists around the world with experience in food, nutrition, medicine and health have formed a vitamin B12 research discussion group called cluB-12 to raise awareness of B12 deficiency and how it can be addressed. Vitamin B12 It is an essential micronutrient that plays a role in supporting red blood cell production, energy, metabolism, and nerve function, but is not found in plants.

Professor Martin Warren of the Quadram Institute in Norwich, UK, who helped initiate cluB-12, is interested in making the public and policy makers aware of the public health implications and measures needed to mitigate vitamin B12 deficiency.

Vitamin B12, deficiency anemia can cause a wide range of symptoms. These usually develop gradually, but can get worse if the condition is not treated. Anemia is when you have fewer red blood cells than normal or have an abnormally low amount of a substance called hemoglobin in each red blood cell.

General symptoms may include: extreme tiredness (fatigue), lack of energy (lethargy), tinnitus, shortness of breath, feeling faint, headaches, pale skin, palpitations (palpitations), loss of appetite, and weight loss.

Professor Martin Warren of the Quadram Institute said: “There is a hidden epidemic of vitamin B12 deficiency among vegetarian and vegan populations and this is of particular concern for women of childbearing age. We are concerned that current UK recommendations, for example, do not take pregnancy into account and this needs to be addressed urgently. “

“There are many good reasons to follow a planned and balanced plant-based diet, but for a vegan diet, especially, you need to be aware of the potential for nutritional deficiency and the need to take adequate B vitamins.12 supplements “.

Dr Kourosh R Ahmadi, co-author from the University of Surrey, said: “Millions of people around the world are switching to a plant-based diet for a myriad of ethical reasons, be it because they love animals or the environment reasons. Our article is not about convincing people that they are wrong by becoming vegan, but about making sure that they are safe and do not become sleepwalkers until they become B12 deficient.

“In addition, it is clear that there should be a global consensus on the guidance on the recommendations for daily intake of vitamin B12—Not only for adults, but specifically for pregnant women and women who want to start a family. “

Key recommendations for people choosing a vegan or vegetarian diet:

  • Take a daily supplement that contains 4 to 7 micrograms of vitamin B12 with food
  • Control your vitamin B12been especially if you haven’t been taking supplements
  • Get expert advice to support plant-based diet planning, especially if you go vegan.
  • Get an expert’s advice if you are following a vegetarian diet if you are already) planning to go vegan, b) planning to become pregnant or breastfeeding, and c) are over 60 years old.

Internationally Recommended Nutritional Intakes

  • UK: Recommended Nutritional Intake (RNI) for Vitamin B12 is set at 1.5 micrograms per day for adults and no adjustment is made for pregnancy
  • USA: The RNI is 2.3 micrograms per day and increases to 2.6 and 2.8 per day for pregnant and lactating women, respectively.
  • EU – 4 micrograms per day and increases to 4.5 and 5 for pregnant and lactating women, respectively.

People who follow a vegan diet have a much higher risk of consuming vitamin B12 deficiency. Estimates suggest deficiency rates of up to 62 percent in pregnant women. In vegetarians, B12 the deficiency reaches 40 percent.

Research by Food Databanks National Capability at the Quadram Institute also shows that vegan products in UK supermarkets do not commonly or adequately fortify their vegan food products with vitamin B12.


Veganism: Vitamin B12 is well supplemented, iodine is cause for concern


Provided by the University of Surrey

Citation: Necessary Action on Vitamin B12 Deficiency in People Following Plant-Based Diets (2022, January 6) Retrieved January 6, 2022 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-01-action-vitamin- b12-deficiency-people.html

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