Friday, October 29, 2010

Balanced Diets Best

Vegetarians at risk of brain disorders

IANS, Oct 28, 2010, 02.36pm IST

Vegetarians are at an early risk of mental disorder such as dementia and alzheimer's as they develop a Vitamin B-12 deficiency, doctors said here Wednesday.

Fish, shellfish, meat, eggs, milk and their by-products are some of the biggest sources of Vitamin B-12.

"Deficiency of Vitamin B-12 can reduce working capacity of the brain and result in progressive memory loss that has an impact on day to day activities," Praveen Gupta, consultant neurologist at Artemis Health Institute in Gurgaon, said in an Interview.

"Since majority of the Indian population is vegetarian and milk consumption has reduced considerably, they are more prone to early onset of dementia. Those who suffer from lactose intolerance are also at risk," Gupta explained.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), India had nearly 3.5 million alzheimer's and dementia patients in the year 2000.

"We see at least 30 patients under the age of 40 every month -- suffering from memory loss and other manifestations due to deficiency of vitamin B-12. Once diagnosed, these patients respond very well to vitamin B-12 supplements," Gupta added.    Read More

Eating a balanced diet that includes meat and dairy products has been proven time and again to be the best diet for people.  But diet alone doesn’t determine your health.  There’s a little thing called exercise that also plays an important factor.  Many critics of our food supply conveniently seem to forget that. 


Anonymous said...

We have spent hundreds of years learning what makes a hutritious meal and some people still try to eliminate healthy foods from thei diet. This research is no surprise to me as a nurse. We need B12 and it is only in animal sources of food.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for that interesting article. What I'm unsure of though is the direct link between vegetarianism and brain disorders.

The article fails to mention that the prevalence rate of Alzheimer's/dementia in India among those above 55 years old "was reported to be in the range of 0.8% to 3.4% and that of Alzheimer’s disease in the range of 0.6% to 1.5%" (Source: World Health Organization). Although these rates could possibly be attributed to a B-12 deficient diet, I see no scientific data in the article to support that claim. Moreover, Dr. Gupta, it seems, is not a board-certified provider, at least not according to his employer's website.

What's really interesting to me is that the prevalence of Alzheimer's/dementia in the United States, a country that arguably consumes much more meat and therefore B-12 per capita, is much higher among the elderly population where some 13% of Americans above the age of 65 have Alzheimer's (Source: The Alzheimer's Association). If calculated to include dementia, this number would be even higher, and let's not forget that in comparison to the India numbers, the United States statistic above excludes those aged 55-66, likely making the difference in prevalence between India and the United States even larger.

While I recognize the importance of B-12 in one's diet, I think that your argument that vegetarians are "at risk for brain disorders" is severely flawed.