alexa Vegetarians, the Good, the Bad, and the Challenges
ISSN: 2376-1318

Vitamins & Minerals
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Vegetarians, the Good, the Bad, and the Challenges

Duo Li*
Department of Food Science & Nutrition, Zhejiang University, 866 Yu-Hang-Tang Road, Hangzhou, China 310058
Corresponding Author : Dr. Duo Li
Professor, Department of Food Science & Nutrition
Zhejiang University, 866 Yu-Hang-Tang Road
Hangzhou, China 310058
Tel: 86-571-88982024
Fax: 86-571-88982024
E-mail: [email protected]
Received February 04, 2012; Accepted February 04, 2012; Published February 07, 2012
Citation: Li D (2012) Vegetarians, the Good, the Bad, and the Challenges. Vitamin Trace Element 1:e107. doi:10.4172/2376-1318.1000e107
Copyright: © 2012 Li D. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


Becoming a vegetarian has become increasingly popular over the past decade, with many people turning to vegetarianism in an attempt to achieve better health. However this trend is not without it’s controversy. Many doctors and scientists have opposing views on vegetarianism, and this has led to confusion in the public about whether it is indeed the healthier lifestyle choice. The major health advantage for vegetarians include decreased body mass index, waist to hip ratio, blood pressure, plasma total cholesterol (TC), triacylglycerol and LDL-C levels, serum lipoprotein(a) concentration, plasma factor VII activity, ratios of TC/HDL-C, LDL-C/ HDL-C and TAG/HDL-C, and serum ferritin levels. However, being a vegetarian is not without it’s disadvantages and health risks. Studies have shown that vegetarians, especially vegans tend to have lower serum levels of vitamin B12 compared with omnivores. Serum vitamin B12 concentration was significantly negatively correlated with plasma homocysteine. Remethylation of homocysteine to methionine requires vitamin B12 (methylcobalamin form) as a coenzyme for homocysteine methyltransferase (methionine synthetase) and N5-methyltetrahydrofolate as a methyl donor [1]. Vitamin B12 is essential for new cell synthesis, blood formation, maintenance of the nervous system. Vitamin B12, as a coenzyme increases the utilization of folic acid and metabolism of carbohydrate, fat and protein etc. In the vitamins, B12 is the only one containing a mineral (cobalt), it also known as the red vitamin. Seafood, animal meats, eggs and liver are good sources for vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is not found in plant foods, however, seaweed may contain vitamin B12 analogs which can be counted on as reliable sources of active vitamin B12. Ovo-lacto vegetarians may get vitamin B12 from eggs and dairy products. Vegans could get some very limited vitamin B12 from fermented soybean products, seaweed and edible fungi (like mushrooms) on farms or in the wild which may be contaminated from bacteria in the soil.

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