Being veg may take a toll on heart

Reason to eat meat

Researchers in Delhi have found that low levels of folic acid and vitamin B12 lead to blockage in vessels among Indian patients.

A vegetarian diet is primarily responsible for deficiency of B12.

The study, partly funded by the Indian Council of Medical Research, was conducted in biochemistry department of Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in collaboration with Jamia Millia Islamia university.

It has been recently published in the journal of clinical biochemistry and nutrition.

“There have been many studies outside India proving the same. But we needed an Indian study too,” said Dr Seema Bhargava lead author of the study.

Blockages in arteries cause a heart attack while a blocked vessel in brain results in a stroke. It can also causes peripheral vascular disease.

The study was conducted on 200 subjects — of which 100 were patients having vessel blockages while the other 100 formed the control group of normal people.

Among the patients, folic acid and B12 were found low and plasma homocysteine concentrations — responsible for plaque formation leading to blockage of arteries — were found high.

After giving supplements, homocysteine levels came down. Even among normal people, B12 level was low.

“The only natural source for B12 is animal products. Due to vegetarian culture, B12 is low among Indians,” said Dr Bhargava of department of biochemistry at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.

 Vitamin deficiency

She added that genetically Indians are not more prone to vascular diseases as compared to other countries.

But due to lack of intake of non-vegetarian food, deficiency of essential vitamins occurs.
Folates are found in vegetables like potatoes, green vegetables and beans.
Dr Bhargava said a large scale corrective measures
like food fortification or dietary supplementation with folate and B12 might benefit the Indian population and reduce the incidence and morbidity rate of vascular diseases.

Food fortification

Rajasthan had launched its food fortification programme in February 2012.
Many European nations and the United States are running such programmes for nearly two decades. Dr D S Rana, chairman, SGRH said the hospital has 75 research projects in progress.

“The prominent areas in which research is being conducted are oncology, neonatology, gastroenterology, organ transplantation, infectious diseases, blood diseases, genetics, biochemistry and surgical sciences. The funding comes from department of biotechnology, government of India, ICMR, and international bodies like World Health Organisation,” he said.

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