Friday, June 12, 2009

Pernicious Anemia (B12 Deficiency)?

Monique, My husband is 47 and has been a vegetarian since 18 and a vegan for the last ten or so years. 4 years ago he was diagnosed with Pernicious Anemia (B12 Defcy). 3 & 1/2 years ago he became very ill and was then diagnosed with Vasculitis-Churg Strauss Syndrome. He has resultant Peripheral nerve damage, has been on a steroid drug all this time and is getting worse. He has maintained his vegan diet, even though there has been much criticism of this type of diet from Medical people, family & friends. He believes all requirement for the body are well covered by plenty of fruit, which he consumes alot of, and vegetables. He does not like to eat a lot of grains or legumes etc. and does not believe in supplementing with vitamins etc. He is having to have B12 injections every 3 months, but we do have concerns that maybe these shots caused the Vasculitis!! Have any other Vegans (or known Vegans) had any experience with a B12 defcy or this illness Vasculitis.? Thanks, Aileen

Answer: Vegans, and vegetarians that do not consume dairy products or eggs, must be very careful to ensure proper nutrition in their diet. Vegans are especially prone to vitamin B-12 deficiency. They can minimize their risk for this by adding nutritional yeast to their diet.

Vitamin B-12 is necessary for the formation of red blood cells and the maintenance of a healthy nervous system. Prolonged B-12 deficiency can lead to nerve degeneration and neurological damage. This vitamin is stored in small amounts by the body and is reabsorbed during the digestive process. Because of this reabsorption factor, it can take up to 20 years for a deficiency to develop.

Again, it is vital that vegans and strict vegetarians maintain a balanced, nutrient-dense diet that includes grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and nutritional yeast. With respect to Vasculitis and Churg Strauss Syndrome, I am not a doctor and cannot advise treatment for these disorders. I am not aware of these conditions being prevalent in vegans. I can tell you that they may stem from some sort of allergy, but you would need to discuss this with your doctor to be certain.

For more information read "Pernicious Anemia" at

my Q&A
"Are there vegan sources of vitamin B12?"

and the books...

Becoming Vegan: The Complete Guide to Adopting a Healthy Plant-Based Diet
by Brenda Davis & Vesanto Melina

Vegan Freak: Being Vegan in a Non-Vegan World
by Bob Torres, Jenna Torres

Thrive: A Guide to Optimal Health & Performance Through Plant-Based Whole Foods
by Brendan Brazier and Zoltan P. Rona

The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen
by Donna Klein

Vegan with a Vengeance : Over 150 Delicious, Cheap, Animal-Free Recipes That Rock
by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

Plant Based Nutrition and Health by Stephen Walsh

Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook
by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Vegan Cooking
by Beverly Lynn Bennett and Ray Sammartano

You may also want to visit the
Virtues of Soy website.

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Monique N. Gilbert, BSc. has offered guidance in health, nutrition, fitness and stress management since 1989. Through her writings, Monique motivates and teaches how to improve your well-being, vitality and longevity with balanced nutrition, physical activity and healthy stress-free living.

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