2007 was the last time I updated the VeganHealth.org article, Mild B12 Deficiency: Elevated Homocysteine. Since then, a whole lot of research has been published on the topic, and a number of people have written me about some of those studies.
Today I finished rewriting the article. Despite the large amount of research, the article is now much shorter than it used to be, with the new stuff starting here.
A Quick Summary
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.