Jack Norris on B12 and Homocystine

As a result of several new studies coming out, Jack has revised his article addressing the fact that even mild B12 deficiencies can elevate homocystine levels, and consequently lead to health problems. The new evidence offers worrisome information to all vegans who are lackadaisical about taking B12 supplements. In short, you don’t need to develop an extreme B12 deficiency in order to damage your health in a lasting way. The good news here is that mild deficiencies are as easy to avoid as severe deficiencies: just buy some cheap vegan B-12 lozenges and let one dissolve on your tongue at least several times a week. If you don’t do this, you’re taking unnecessary chances with your health.

Here’s the complete summary of Jack’s latest advice, which he posted to his blog:

Vegetarians and vegans who do not regularly supplement with vitamin B12 normally have elevated homocysteine levels which are linked to cardiovascular disease and dementia.

Research has shown that people with previously diagnosed cardiovascular disease who embark on treatment to lower homocysteine levels have a reduced risk of stroke (in some but not all studies), but there has been very little benefit for other cardiovascular diseases. It appears that except for stroke, once the damage has been done, lowering homocysteine will not do much to improve cardiovascular disease.

More importantly for vegans without cardiovascular disease, a marked decrease in the rate of stroke in the USA and Canada has paralleled the fortification of foods with folate indicating that damage from homocysteine can be prevented.

The Take-Home Message

If you are vegetarian or vegan, make sure you follow the recommendations for taking vitamin B12.

Once again, Jack’s generously done a staggering amount of research in order to protect the health of the vegan community. The guy deserves immense credit and thanks.

Links: Jack’s blog summary. Jack’s VeganHealth.org article.

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