One in five people in Chennai, a majority of them vegetarians, has a Vitamin B12 deficiency, according to data analysis of diagnostic laboratory Metropolis Healthcare.Test results of more than 3 lakh samples, including 2 lakh women, showed that more than 15% of the population across nine cities did not have adequate quantity of the vitamin. The energy vitamin helps the body generate DNA, nerve and blood cells besides helping the brain stay healthy and boosting immunity . The body obtains vitamin B12 from animal-based foods like eggs, meat, or dairy. Periodic consumption of vitamin B12-rich foods is necessary as the body is not designed to store the vitamin for a long time, according to Dr Kirti Chadha, head, Global Reference Laboratory, Metropolis Healthcare.
The analysis records vitamin B12 deficiency in 20% of those tested. In Chennai, 18.25% of the population tested were found to be deficient.People above the age of 50 and those suffering from digestive problems have a higher risk of developing this deficiency .
“It also becomes harder if one has had a weight loss surgery or any surgery of the stomach. Drinking heavily or taking acid-reducing medications for a long time also affects absorption of vitamins,” Chadha said.
Statistics showed that the deficiency was more common in men. “It is probably because women come for opportunistic screening at least once during pregnancy,” said senior gynaecologist Dr Nazira Sadique, of Cloudnine Hospitals.