Vegetarians vulnerable to cardio-vascular diseases, say experts
IF you are overweight and a vegetarian, chances are that you may be suffering from Vitamin B12 deficiency and that’s a bad news of your heart. A study conducted by Bariatric surgeons Dr Shashank Shah and Dr Jayashree Todkar found a strong co-relation between low Vitamin B12 level in the body and cardio-vascular diseases.
Dr Shah presented the paper – Vitamin B12 deficiency lead to cardiac diseases – at the World Congress for Obesity last month and the same will be published in international journal Obesity Surgery soon.
Mumbai-based Dr Shah explained that the study, which was done on 300 obese patients from across the country, was done in the span of a year. And, one of these patients is Pompangauda, a mining contractor from Bellary, who weighed over 173 kg. He was suffering from Osteoarthritis, Obstructive sleep apnoea, Diabetes mellitus and high blood pressure and was on a long list of tablets prescribed by the physician. In addition to this, he was a vegetarian and did not consume any dairy products.
Pompangauda decided to undergo surgery for weight loss and learnt about Dr Shah from a friend. However, after doing all the tests, Dr Shah found that he was suffering from Vitamin B12 deficiency. He underwent sleeve gastronomy surgery, which cost him over Rs 5 lakh. “After surgery, I weigh 116 kg now. However, to treat the deficiency, I have been given few medicines and vitamin tablets. I have to go for follow-up after three months,” he said.
Deficiency of Vitamin B12 level in the body lead to increase in homocystine level, which carried underlying risk of cardiac problems, said Dr Shah. Even the conclusion of the study confirmed to this finding, where 60 per cent of the patients under the study had Vitamin B12 deficiency, high homocystine level and therefore, more prone to heart ailments.
Vitamin B12 is found in meat, egg, milk and dairy products. As a lot of Indians are vegetarians and with obesity becoming a growing concern in the country, vitamin B12 deficiency could well be a possible risk factor for cardiac diseases.
“When an overweight person goes to a physician, the focus of treatment is usually to control cholesterol, fat and oil content in the diet, etc. However, no one looks at the Vitamin B12 level,” he pointed out. Hence, when an obese patient felt lethargic, nervousness, loss of concentration, irritability, etc, the person must check Vitamin B12 level apart from other tests, Dr Shah advised.
Apparently, our body has huge stores of vitamins, so it takes a few years for deficiency to set in. “When a patient is found to have vitamin B12 deficiency, we inject the person with vitamins followed by oral tablets and dietary correction. It takes less than six months for the vitamin level to improve in the body,” he said.
(Published in Deccan Herald; along with Poornima Nataraj)