The Importance of Vitamin B12 for Individuals Choosing Plant-Based Diets

Ali Niklewicz, A David Smith, Alison Smith, Andre Holzer, Andrew Klein, Andrew McCaddon, Anne M Molloy, Bruce H R Wolffenbuttel, Ebba Nexo, Helene McNulty, Helga Refsum, Jean-Louis Gueant, Marie-Joe Dib, Mary Ward, Michelle Murphy, Ralph Green, Kourosh R Ahmadi, Luciana Hannibal, Martin J Warren, P Julian Owen

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
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Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient that is not made by plants, consequently unfortified plant-based foods are not a reliable supply. Recent estimates suggest high rates of vitamin B12 deficiency among the vegetarian and vegan populations, particularly in pregnant women or women of child-bearing age who, for ethical and health reasons, are shifting towards higher consumption of plant-based foods in ever-increasing numbers. Vitamin B12 plays crucial metabolic roles across the life-course and in particular during pregnancy and in early development (first 1000 days of life). Evidence now implicates vitamin B12 deficiency with increased risk to a range of neuro, vascular, immune, and inflammatory disorders. However, the current UK recommended nutrient intake for vitamin B12 does not adequately consider the vitamin B12 deficit for those choosing a plant-based diet, including vegetarianism and in particular veganism, representing a hidden hunger. We provide a cautionary note on the importance of preventing vitamin B12 deficits for those individuals choosing a plant-based diet and the health professionals advising them.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Nutrition
Issue number3
Early online date5 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished online - 5 Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

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© 2022, The Author(s).


  • Dietary recommendations
  • Vegetarian and vegan populations
  • Women of child-bearing age
  • Public health
  • Planetary health
  • Plant-based diets
  • Pregnancy
  • Vitamin B12


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