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.

Albert Schweitzer

A man is ethical only when life, as such, is sacred to him, that of plants and animals as that of his fellow men, and when he devotes himself helpfully to all life that is in need of help. 

Vitamin C

Vitamin C, or L-ascorbic acid, or ascorbate, is an essential nutrient for humans, a water-soluble vitamin. Humans, unlike most animals, are unable to synthesize vitamin C, so it is an essential dietary component. 

  • Vitamin C is required for the biosynthesis of collagen (an essential component of connective tissue), L-carnitine, and certain neurotransmitters, it is also involved in protein metabolism.
  • Vitamin C is also an important physiological antioxidant and has been shown to regenerate other antioxidants within the body, including alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E). Vitamin C regenerates vitamin E by reducing vitamin E radicals formed when vitamin E scavenges the oxygen radicals. 
  • Vitamin C plays an important role in immune function and improves the absorption of nonheme iron, the form of iron present in plant-based foods.

Approximately 70%–90% of vitamin C is absorbed at moderate intakes of 30–180 mg a day. At doses above 1 g a day, absorption falls to less than 50% and absorbed, unmetabolized ascorbic acid is excreted in the urine. 

Insufficient vitamin C intake causes scurvy, which is characterized by fatigue or lassitude, connective tissue weakness, and capillary fragility.

Cells accumulate vitamin C. The total body content of vitamin C ranges from 300 mg (at near scurvy) to about 2 g.

  • High levels of vitamin C are maintained in cells and tissues, and are highest in leukocytes (white blood cells), eyes, adrenal glands, pituitary gland, and brain.
  • Relatively low levels of vitamin C are found in extracellular fluids, such as plasma, red blood cells, and saliva.

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