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Vegetarian diet users should take vitamin b12 supplements

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By David LIu, PHD

Monday March 18, 2013 (foodconsumer.org) -- A new review in Nutrition Reviews suggests that a strict vegetarian diet that does not contain any animal foods should take vitamin B12 supplements to prevent the deficiency of this vitamin.

Vitamin B12 is important for the brain and other human physiological functions.  The vitamin is found only in animal foods like meat or dairy products and those who are strictly vegetarian or vegan are at risk of vitamin B12 deficiency, according to the review.

Roman Pawlak at the Department of Nutrition Science, East Carolina University in North Carolina, USA and colleagues conducted the review and found "62% among pregnant women, between 25% and almost 86% among children, 21–41% among adolescents, and 11–90% among the elderly. Higher rates of deficiency were reported among vegans compared with vegetarians and among individuals who had adhered to a vegetarian diet since birth compared with those who had adopted such a diet later in life."

Vegetarian or vegan diet is a healthy diet many food consumers follow as part of their healthy lifestyle.  Dr.  T. Colin Campbell, a distinguished nutrition professor at Cornell University says that vitamin B12 is the only nutrient that users of a plant-based diet need to supplement.  A nutritionally balanced plant-based diet is much superior to a typical Western diet, which is associated with a variety of Western diseases.

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