B12 Deficiency and Bones in Vegetarians

As promised last week, here is a write-up of the 2009 studies associating poor bone health with low B12 status in vegetarians. This is an important reason for lacto-ovo vegetarians, as well as vegans, to make sure they are getting a reliable source of vitamin B12.

VeganHealth.org’s Bones, Vitamin D, and Calcium updated:

“A 2009 cross-sectional study from Slovakia compared lacto-ovo vegetarian women to omnivores. They found that the vegetarians’ higher homocysteine (16.5 vs. 12.5 µmol/l; 78% vs. 45% were elevated) and lower vitamin B12 levels (246 vs. 302 pmol/l; 47% vs. 28% were deficient) were associated with significantly lower bone mineral density in the femur (1). Participants were not allowed to have been taking vitamin or mineral supplements. The researchers did not measure calcium intake or vitamin D status.

“Another 2009 cross-sectional study of German omnivores, lacto-ovo vegetarians, and omnivores, and Indian lacto-ovo vegetarians and omnivores found higher markers of bone turnover associated with low vitamin B12 status (2). The findings were no worse for the lacto-ovo vegetarians than the vegans, indicating that poor bone health can start with just moderate B12 deficiency. None of the participants were taking B12, calcium, or vitamin D supplements.”

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1. Krivosikova Z, Krajcovicova-Kudlackova M, Spustova V, Stefikova K, Valachovicova M, Blazicek P, Nemcova T. The association between high plasma homocysteine levels and lower bone mineral density in Slovak women: the impact of vegetarian diet. Eur J Nutr. 2009 Oct 7. | link

2. Herrmann W, Obeid R, Schorr H, Hübner U, Geisel J, Sand-Hill M, Ali N, Herrmann M. Enhanced bone metabolism in vegetarians–the role of vitamin B12 deficiency. Clin Chem Lab Med. 2009;47(11):1381-7. | link

2 Responses to “B12 Deficiency and Bones in Vegetarians”

  1. Joyce Says:

    I have a question about your book. I find your blog very informative, but I am a lacto ovo vegetarian and plan on remaining one.

    Would you say your book’s info is applicable to lactos as well? I’m always concerned about vitamin deficiencies and want to do my best to prevent any. Thanks!

  2. Jack Norris RD Says:

    Hi Joyce,

    Thanks for asking. I would say that it’s not really for lacto-ovo vegetarians. A couple of the issues apply, and it depends on how much dairy you eat, but we do not make a point of addressing lacto-ovo vegetarian diets specifically. Sorry!

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