Vitamin B12 and Milk

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Why Cow and Cow Milk is so important in India  specially for  strict vegetarians ( vegans) ?

India contains more vegetarians than the rest of the world combined—roughly half a billion (50 crores) people.

For vegetarians,  Milk is the only fresh source of Vitamin B12. This Vitamin B12 is produced by bacteria and micro organisms. Meat and milk are full of bacteria because they are decaying substances and so these foods have plenty of B12.

Average daily recommended dietary amounts of Vitamin B12 for an adult is 2.4 micrograms (mcg). A number of researchers have indicated, however, that this Recommended Dietary Allowance is not adequate for reaching and maintaining an optimal vitamin B12 status, even for a young, healthy population. Thus, an intake of 4 to 7 µg per day would be preferable.

One 250-mL serving of Indian Cow Milk  provides approximately 0.9 mcg (15%) of the Recommended Daily Intake for this vitamin B12. 225 g of low fat yoghurt gives 18% of DV.

Therefore vegetarians need to consume more than 1 Litre of milk or equivalent  milk products like curd, yogart, paneer etc. to meet the requirement of Vitamin B12.

For few decades, the milk has slowly reached out of the buying capacity of lower, lower middle and upto some extant middle class. In the modern living most of them have adopted to have few cups of tea per day instead of pure milk. This is also happening in villages where the poverty is more. The present average consumption of milk is generally insufficient to cater to the requirement of Vitamin B12.

Latest research shows 8 out of 10 middle class population of India are Vitamin B12 deficient.

Vitamin V12 is essential for neurological functions and the growth and division of cells, including red blood cells . Because this vitamin plays a major role in the production of neurotransmitters, its deficiency can play havoc on the neurosystem and lead to depression in all age groups.

Conditions affecting the small intestine, such as Crohn’s disease (ulcerative colitis) and Celiac disease impair the absorption of the vitamin making a person highly susceptible to its deficiency.

Vitamin B12 is a nutrient that helps keep the body’s nerve and blood cells healthy and helps make DNA, the genetic material in all cells. Vitamin B12 also helps prevent a type of anemia called megaloblastic anemia that makes people tired and weak.

If Vitamin B12 deficiency is left untreated, it can lead to irreversible nerve and brain damage. Early symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency are:

  1. Mood changes and depression
  2. Memory loss, disorientation
  3. Difficulty in focusing
  4. Tingling and Numbness in hands and feet
  5. Confusion
  6. Dementia 

 Another major implication of the B12 deficiency is the megaloblastic anemia which if get worsens leads to:

  1. Pale skin
  2. Light-headedness
  3. Weakness
  4. Rapid breathing and palpitation
  5. Cramps
  6. Allergic reactions
  7. Acidity
  8. Faintness and
  9. It can even lead to heart attacks.

In nutshell, we can say that if you are feeling blue and gloomy and you are a strict vegetarian, you might be Vitamin B12 deficient. Since Vitamin B12 is not so commonly included in routine health check ups, awareness needs to be more.

Since B12 is stored, depending on the absorption, its deficiency may not be detected  for the first three years of being vegan.

In extreme deficiencies, supplements are recommended. Intramuscular injection in the form of cyanocobalamin can be administered parenterally and is more effective treatment as this method bypasses potential barriers to absorption.

In addition to Vitamin B12 the little intake of milk is also the main cause of Calcium deficiency.

Thus for STRICT vegetarians in India MILK is like a life line dietary food. Thats why cow is worshiped by pure vegetarians, without which the survival is very difficult.

A very common blessing for prosperity , given by elders is India is ” dudho nahao puto phalo” .

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