Vegetarian’s Myelopathy

Vegetarian’s Myelopathy
5 (100%) 6 votes

Vegetarians got a disease named after them.

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I’m not going to harp on it too much this year, but a major review was just published: 60% of vegans are B12 deficient, because they’re not regularly eating B12-fortified foods or taking B12 supplements every day, or every week. So that means yet another year of horror story, after horror story, one after another.

Vegetarians even got a disease named after them! Vegetarian’s myelopathy. People eating plant-based diets must take vitamin B12.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

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I’m not going to harp on it too much this year, but a major review was just published: 60% of vegans are B12 deficient, because they’re not regularly eating B12-fortified foods or taking B12 supplements every day, or every week. So that means yet another year of horror story, after horror story, one after another.

Vegetarians even got a disease named after them! Vegetarian’s myelopathy. People eating plant-based diets must take vitamin B12.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Doctor's Note

For more videos about vitamin B12, see:
Vitamin B12 Necessary for Arterial Health
New Vitamin B12 Test
Daily Source of Vitamin B12
Cheapest Source of Vitamin B12

For further context, check out my associated blog post: Vegan B12 deficiency: putting it into perspective.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

15 responses to “Vegetarian’s Myelopathy

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  1. B-12 in cyanocobalamin form or methylcobalamin form? At my local veg society dinner last month the speaker said the cyanocobalamin can’t be used by the human body and buying the methylcobalamin is much better. Marketing hype or current unresolved controversy?

  2. I’m sure someone has mentioned this already, but omnivores are at risk these days of B12 deficiency, too. It’s not strictly a vegan problem. Much of the animals raised for meat aren’t grazing naturally anymore (grain fed), so the animals are deficient in B12, which means the humans eating them are deficient in B12 as well. My co-workers father was just diagnosed with B12 deficiency, and he is a meat eater.

    1.  Beyond the issues you mention is an autoimmune disorder, Pernicious Anemia. Certain cells in the stomach normally produce a substance called intrinsic factor which is necessary for the B12 to be absorbed by our receptor sites. This doesn’t effect the passive diffusion mechanism but does markedly alter the amount of oral B12 needed to meet our requirements… see http://nutritionfacts.org/video/cheapest-source-of-vitamin-b12/ plus the other in the excellent series of B12 videos February 3 to 9 of this year. If diagnosed with B12 deficiency it is important to work with your physician to be treated and tested periodically.

    2. I agree April, we give A LOT of B12 injections to common meateaters at our clinic. It seems, after the age of 60, our gut has a harder time processing and absorbing B12 correctly. At 60 yr, in the USA it is 20% deficient rate! Can you imaging how many folks are B12 deficient in a nursing home? Perhaps contributing to there parenthesis and dementia? I can tell you, just my observations, we were giving a high percentage of elderly patients B12 injections due to B12 deficiency and Vit D supplementation too! Surprising how the aches and pains can decrease with something as simple as Vitamin D

  3. I agree April, we give A LOT of B12 injections to common meateaters in our clinic, it seems, after the age 60, our bodies have a hard time processing B12 correctly. So whether Vegan or flesheater, we all need to have our B12 checked and supplemented (while you are in there have them check your Vit D too!)

  4. As i dig deeper and deeper for naturally occurring sources as my diet gets closer and closer to full-on vegan (not there yet, not a big rush, but do like the results!), I found this extensive list of foods and vitamin contents. While i don’t fully trust the source, I hope the data is sufficiently correct. And maybe they have some numbers for well-water/spring water samples from around the country too!

    Here: 7282 “foods” tested for B12: http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/nutrients/report?nutrient1=418&nutrient2=&nutrient3=&fg=&max=25&subset=0&offset=0&sort=f&totCount=7282&measureby=m

    “food” because it’s all manner of things, many food-related or food-like and a great many that few of us here would consider eating.

  5. Two questions for Dr. Greger and staff:
    1. If you are a WFPB vegan with early symptoms of b12 deficiency should you or can you safely continue supplementing with 2000 mcg of cyanocabalamin daily beyond Dr. Greger’s recommended 2 week period — for as long as it takes for symptoms to begin to recede?
    2. If b12 deficiency is causing sore stiff muscles would it be recommended to attempt mild exercise or would this just be adding to the oxidative stress while b12 is still not fully restored to the body?
    Thank you for any info in response to these questions and for this great site that has been so very helpful in getting the most out of a vegan diet.

    1. Hey Wendy, thanks for writing! The SAFE thing to do is get your B-12 level checked by your Doc, and don’t continue to megadose unless you need to (a person who wants to avoid the need for B12 injections would need to continue on this high dose). We’ve seen examples in the past of wrongly assuming that a vitamin can’t be bad for us just because it’s water-soluble (B6 megadosing and neuropathy, vitamin C megadosing and kidney stones).

      I don’t believe B12 deficiency is a common cause of sore/stiff muscles. Mild exercise would cause an INCREASE an antioxidant enzymes and DECREASE oxidative stress rather than increase it.

      1. Hi there,

        I have been thinking about the info in your comment.  I think it is absolutely correct that exercise produces an antioxidative effect — if your system is working properly. I have always been active and healthy and that was my experience but after a few years of limited animal foods followed by some months of veganism I have some classic symptoms of b 12 deficiency.  According to Dr. Greger’s video on the myth of b12, when you are deficient/low in b12 theoretically you can be high in homocysteine which apparently causes a kind of global inflammation.  And I think it’s possible that the muscle micro tears from exercise can’t be readily healed if you don’t have enough red blood cells to nourish them.  Plus the fatigue from low b12 makes physical exercise so much more of an effort — you feel like you’ve just run a marathon before even attempting exercise.  Will check this out with a doc, but wondered if you think what I’m saying sounds plausible in terms of low b12?  And if under these circumstances exercise would still be beneficial?  After a couple of weeks of mega-dosing about 2000 mcg daily, I have decreased the dose to about 500 mcg a day.  Thanks for any additional thoughts.

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