All about fruitarianism with a long-term fruitarian, Lena

In India, most people adhere to a vegetarian diet, which may lead to cobalamin deficiency. About 75% of the subjects had metabolic signs of cobalamin deficiency, which was only partly explained by the vegetarian diet.

The study population included 204 men and women aged 27–55 y from Pune, Maharashtra, India, categorized into 4 groups:

  • patients with cardiovascular disease (CVD) and diabetes,
  • patients with CVD but no diabetes,
  • patients with diabetes but no CVD,
  • healthy subjects.

Data on medical history, lifestyle, and diet were obtained by interviews and questionnaires. Blood samples were collected for measurement of serum or plasma total cobalamin, holotranscobalamin (holoTC), methylmalonic acid (MMA), and total homocysteine (tHcy) and hemetologic indexes.

  1. Methylmalonic acid, total homocysteine, total cobalamin, and holotranscobalamin did not differ significantly among the 4 groups.
  2. Total cobalamin showed a strong inverse correlation with total homocysteine (r = −0.59) and methylmalonic acid (r = −0.54). 
  3. 47% of the subjects had cobalamin deficiency (total cobalamin <150 pmol/L),
  4. 73% had low holotranscobalamin (<35 pmol/L),
  5. 77% had hyperhomocysteinemia (total homocysteine >15 μmol/L),
  6. 73% had elevated serum methylmalonic acid (>0.26 μmol/L).

These indicators of impaired cobalamin status were observed in both vegetarians and nonvegetarians.

Folate deficiency was rare and only 2.5% of the subjects were homozygous for the MTHFR 677C→T polymorphism. 

Marked ethnic differences in cobalamin metabolism have been reported (40); therefore, the possibility that Indians have adapted to a chronic low cobalamin concentrations through genetic mechanisms should be considered.

This finding agrees with our observation that even subjects with relatively high cobalamin concentrations can have high tHcy and MMA concentrations. Notably, in the study by Lindenbaum et al, the high MMA concentration was related to anaerobic gut flora and the high tHcy concentration was explained by a low cobalamin concentration. Some studies suggest that overgrowth of intestinal bacteria may lead to formation and absorption of inactive cobalamin analogues.

Linus Pauling

I have something that I call my Golden Rule. It goes something like this: 'Do unto others twenty-five percent better than you expect them to do unto you.' … The twenty-five percent is for error.

Vitamin B12 Cobalamin

Vitamin B12, also called cobalamin, is a water-soluble vitamin that has a key role in the normal functioning of the brain and nervous system, and the formation of red blood cells. It is involved in the metabolism of every cell of the human body, especially affecting DNA synthesis, fatty acid and amino acid metabolism.

No fungi, plants, nor animals (including humans) are capable of producing vitamin B12. Only bacteria and archaea have the enzymes needed for its synthesis. Proved food sources of B12 are animal products (meat, fish, dairy products). Some research states that certain non-animal products possibly can be a natural source of B12 because of bacterial symbiosis.

B12 is the largest and most structurally complicated vitamin and can be produced industrially only through a bacterial fermentation-synthesis. This synthetic B12 is used to fortify foods and sold as a dietary supplement.

Vitamin B12 consists of a class of chemically related compounds (vitamers), all of which show pharmacological activity. It contains the biochemically rare element cobalt (chemical symbol Co). The vitamer is produced by bacteria as hydroxocobalamin, but conversion between different forms of the vitamin occurs in the body after consumption

B12 aids in lowering homocysteine levels and may lower the risk of heart disease. 

Recommended daily amount: 2.4 mcg

Example sources: fortified cereals, doenjang and chunggukjang (fermented soybeans), nori (seaweed). Apple