Ensuring adequate vitamin B12 status for patients on a plant-based diet

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in animal-derived foods. It is added to others and is available as a dietary supplement and a prescription medication. Vitamin B12 exists in several forms and contains the mineral cobalt, (1, 2, 3, 4) so compounds with vitamin B12 activity are collectively called “cobalamins”. Methylcobalamin and 5-deoxyadenosylcobalamin are the forms of vitamin B12 that are active in human metabolism. (5) Continue reading

Nutrition in Medical Education – the missing ingredient

With diet being the leading health risk factor in the United States[i], one would think that it would occupy a central position in medical education, continuing education and practice. But unfortunately that’s not currently the case. It turns out that, as a group, our nation’s physicians are not adequately trained in nutrition to provide the care their patients need.

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Top Health Risk Factor faced by patients – An Unhealthy Diet!

A recent study published in the JAMA demonstrates that the top health risk factor faced by American patients is an unhealthy diet[i]. The leading risk factors related to DALYs (Disease Adjusted Life years), YLLs (years of life lost due to premature mortality) and YLDs (years lived with disability) were dietary risks.

This study puts unhealthy diet front and center as the greatest health risk faced by most patients in the US. While still important, infectious diseases are no longer the cause of most morbidity and mortality. Now instead lifestyle has come to the fore. Lifestyle choices, especially dietary choices, are either the main etiologic, or a significant exacerbating, factor behind common chronic diseases such as coronary artery disease, hypercholesterolemia, essential hypertension, metabolic syndrome, type II diabetes and some cancers such as prostate and colon cancer.

[i] Christopher J. L. Murray and the US Burden of Disease Collaborators. “The State of US Health, 1990-2010 Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors.” JAMA. 2013;310(6):591-606