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Vitamin B12 and vegetarian diets

This is a republished version of an article previously published in MJA Open

Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) is an essential vitamin, required for DNA synthesis (and ultimately cell division) and for maintaining nerve myelin integrity.1 It is found almost exclusively in animal-based products including red meats, poultry, seafood, milk, cheese and eggs. As vitamin B12 is produced by bacteria in the large intestines of animals, plant-based foods are generally not a source of vitamin B12. It is therefore a nutrient of concern for vegetarians and particularly for vegans who choose an entirely plant-based diet. A cross-sectional analysis study involving 689 men found that more than half of vegans and 7% of vegetarians were deficient in vitamin B12.2

Vitamin B12 deficiency

Vitamin B12 deficiency is a serious health problem that can result in megaloblastic anaemia, inhibition of cell division,…