A UK report has shown that half of young people in their 20s are at risk of vitamin B12 deficiency, possibly due to the rising trend in plant-based diets, which could have serious health implications.
The 2022 UK Essential Health Check Report conducted by YorkTest, used the blood analysis from 4204 people and explored the impact of factors such as age, gender and vitamin levels.
Results showed that 55% of women and 40% of men in their 20s had low levels of vitamin B12, with the rising trend of vegan and plant-based diets a possible contributing factor.
At least 36% of vegans in the UK are between the ages of 25 and 34, and research shows that up to 90 percent of vegans and vegetarians may be deficient in vitamin B12.
Not just older adults
YorkTest Scientific Director Dr Gill Hart said that the study was interesting because it challenged scientific evidence that vitamin B12 deficiency is more common in older people and could be due to diets with reduced vitamin intake.
Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient that plays a vital role in supporting energy metabolism, nerve function and producing DNA.
However, the body does not naturally produce it and deficiency can cause fatigue, blurred vision, poor memory, depression, anaemia, damage to the nervous system, and an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
Studies have shown that optimal levels of vitamin B12 may reduce inflammation, protect against cognitive impairment, improve memory and lower the risk of dementia, while another study found that low vitamin B12 levels may lead to brain shrinkage due to loss of brain cells.
Health expert, Vanessa Ascencao said that around one quarter of the population may be deficient in vitamin B12, which can have negative consequences, particularly for young people, as the brain is still developing.
Boost your B12 intake
“Ensure a healthy diet that includes good sources of meat, chicken and eggs, fresh fruits, green leafy vegetables and healthy fats such as olive oil, avocado, nuts, seeds and fatty fish, recommends Ascencao.
“When following a plant-based diet, plan meals ahead, prioritise a variety of nutrient-rich foods such as spinach, beetroot and chickpeas, and avoid sugar, alcohol, caffeine and processed foods as these reduce vitamin B12.”
She adds that regular health checks and high-quality supplements with proven absorption, such as BetterYou B12 Boost can also help.
“Research has shown that BetterYou vitamin oral sprays offer greater absorption and are twice as effective than tablets, capsules or drops as the vitamin is transported directly into the bloodstream,” concludes Ascencao.
Author: Pedro van Gaalen
When he’s not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He’s worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.