Vegetarians, vegans, and seniors face higher risks of developing diet-related vitamin B12 deficiencies, according to a new review of scientific studies published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
To reach their conclusions, researchers from the United Graduate School of Agricultural Sciences of Tottori University and the Department of Nutrition of the Junior College of Tokyo reviewed nearly 100 scientific studies analyzing vitamin B12 — a nutrient commonly found in eggs, milk, meat, fish, and a small number of plants.
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The results of the review showed that the human body is actually unable to use the plant-based form of vitamin B12, meaning vegetarians and vegans are at high risk of developing a deficiency in this vitamin.
In addition, elderly people who suffer from certain gastrointestinal disorders are at risk because their bodies are unable to absorb the normal type of B12 in food.
Vitamin B12 is vital for the formation of red blood cells, and B12 deficiency can lead to health problems such as anemia, nerve and brain damage.
The researchers said the findings suggest those at risk eat B12-fortified foods
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