The journal of nutrition, health & aging

, Volume 16, Issue 6, pp 569–573 | Cite as

Vitamin B-12 supplementation improves arterial function in vegetarians with subnormal vitamin B-12 status

  • T. Kwok
  • P. Chook
  • M. Qiao
  • L. Tam
  • Y. K. P. Poon
  • A. T. Ahuja
  • J. Woo
  • D. S. Celermajer
  • K. S. Woo



Vegetarians are more vascular-healthy but those with subnormal vitamin B-12 status have impaired arterial endothelial function and increased intima-media thickness. We aimed to study the impact of vitamin B-12 supplementation on these markers, in the vegetarians.


Double-blind, placebo controlled, randomised crossover study.


Community dwelling vegetarians.


Fifty healthy vegetarians (vegetarian diet for at least 6 years) were recruited. Intervention: Vitamin B-12 (500µg/day) or identical placebo were given for 12 weeks with 10 weeks of placebo-washout before crossover (n=43), and then open label vitamin B-12 for additional 24 weeks (n=41).


How-mediated dilation of brachial artery (FMD) and intima-media thickness (IMT) of carotid artery were measured by ultrasound.


The mean age of the subjects was 45+9 years and 22 (44%) were male. Thirty-five subjects (70%) had serum B-12 levels <150pmol/l. Vitamin B-12 supplementation significantly increased serum vitamin B-12 levels (p<0.0001) and lowered plasma homocysteine (p<0.05). After vitamin B-12 supplementation but not placebo, significant improvement of brachial FMD (6.3±1.8% to 6.9±1.9%; p<0.0001) and in carotid IMT (0.69±0.09mm to 0.67±0.09 mm, p<0.05) were found, with further improvement in FMD (to 7.4±1.7%; p<0.0001) and IMT (to 0.65±0.09mm; p<0.001) after 24 weeks open label vitamin B-12. There were no significant changes in blood pressures or lipid profiles. On multivariate analysis, changes in B-12 (β=0.25; p=0.02) but not homocysteine were related to changes in FMD, (R=0.32; F value=3.19; p=0.028).


Vitamin B-12 supplementation improved arterial function in vegetarians with subnormal vitamin B-12 levels, proposing a novel strategy for atherosclerosis prevention.

Key words

Vegetarians vitamin B-12 endothelial function intima-media thickening 


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Copyright information

© Serdi and Springer Verlag France 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. Kwok
    • 1
  • P. Chook
    • 1
    • 2
  • M. Qiao
    • 1
  • L. Tam
    • 1
  • Y. K. P. Poon
    • 1
  • A. T. Ahuja
    • 3
  • J. Woo
    • 1
  • D. S. Celermajer
    • 4
  • K. S. Woo
    • 1
    • 2
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Medicine and TherapeuticsThe Chinese University of Hong KongHong KongChina
  2. 2.School of Life SciencesThe Chinese University of Hong KongHong KongChina
  3. 3.Department of Diagnostic Radiology and Organ ImagingThe Chinese University of Hong KongHong KongChina
  4. 4.Department of CardiologyThe University of SydneySydneyAustralia
  5. 5.Room 191, Science Centre South Block, Biochemistry Programme, School of Life SciencesThe Chinese University of Hong KongShatin NT, Hong Kong SARChina

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