The intakes of vitamin B12 in the Scottish vegetarian and vegan population compared with the RNI recommended by COMA.
(2015) The intakes of vitamin B12 in the Scottish vegetarian and vegan population compared with the RNI recommended by COMA., no. 36.
Background: Vitamin B12 is naturally obtained in the diet in foods of animal origin. Research has demonstrated a high risk of deficiency in vegans and to a lesser degree in vegetarians. Little is known about intakes of this subgroup in Scotland and whether they are consuming sufficient dairy, eggs and fortified foods to meet requirements. This study aimed to assess vitamin B12 intakes in this population and compare differences between levels of restriction. It also aimed to determine if they are meeting the reference nutrient intake of 1.5ug/day as recommended by COMA and to establish if supplements are taken. Methods: Participants were recruited either from Queen Margaret university or Edinburgh city centre. The study used a five day diet diary and questionnaire. Dietary analysis was performed using Windiets software. Daily average intakes and standard deviation were established using descriptive statistics. A one sample T-test was executed to compare intakes with the reference nutrient intake. Results: This study included fifteen participants consisting of ten vegetarians, two vegans and three pescetarians. From the whole group nine were below the reference nutrient intake of 1.5ug/day including seven vegetarians and two vegans. The two vegans were also below the lower reference nutrient intake of 0.5ug/day implying a high deficiency risk. There was no significant difference between the average intakes for the whole group at 0.2 (p value < 0.05) compared with the reference nutrient intake. Conclusion: It is possible for vegetarians to receive adequate intakes of vitamin B12 from dairy and eggs. Vegans are more restricted as demonstrated by the two in this study who have a high deficiency risk and caution must be followed to ensure they receive sufficient intakes from fortified foods and/or supplements. While there was no significant difference between each group and the RNI, a larger sample size would likely give this result. Key Words: Vitamin B12, Cobalamin, Vegetarian, Vegan