RO water consumers at risk of vitamin B12 deficiency

VADODARA: Vegetarians, people with unnatural dark complexion and those who consume purified water through reverse osmosis (RO) systems are more likely to suffer from vitamin B12 deficiency.


Photo courtesy: Time Of India

A study conducted at SSG Hospital has found this. The study has revealed that RO water consumption is an emerging risk factor for vitamin B12 deficiency, as cobalt, an essential component of vitamin B12, gets removed through the RO system.

For the study, 160 patients with B12 deficiency and 160 patients with B12 within normal limit were included.
“It was a case control study in which all the patients visiting our hospital with symptoms suggestive of B12 deficiency and serum B12 level below 200 pg/ml were included. At the same time, patients coming to our department and found to be having serum vitamin B12 level above 200 pg/ml were also included in the study as controlled group,” said Dr Sangita V Patel, additional professor at Department of Community Medicine of Baroda Medical College.

Patel had guided the study that was carried out by Dr Alpesh Makwana with the help of physicians Dr Archana Gandhi and Dr Vipul Bhavsar.

The team carried out multivariate analysis to ascertain risk factors affecting Vitamin B12 deficiency using logistic regression model.

“We identified RO water being used for drinking purpose to be a major risk factor affecting Vitamin B12 deficiency. Those having vegetarian diet and unnatural dark complexion or unnatural change in skin color were also at high risk of developing the deficiency,” she said.
Those who used RO water for drinking experienced 3.61 higher odds of vitamin B12 deficiency compared to controls. Similarly, those with dark complexion had 2.53 higher chances of vitamin B12 deficiencies as compared to the controls and those who were vegetarian had 2.007 higher odds of vitamin B12 deficiencies as compared to the controls.

“Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient required for various bodily functions, including the production of red blood cells, DNA synthesis and nerve function,” she said.

The study states that there are three reasons behind adverse health effects of consuming demineralised water.

While the RO system removes cobalt, an essential component of vitamin B12, resulting in B12 deficiency, the reduced absorption of vitamin B12 available in diet due to low mineralized water causes chronic atrophic gastritis.


“Additionally, the RO system also removes microorganisms responsible for endogenous production of vitamin B12 directly or indirectly. The longer the duration of RO water consumption, the more likely the possibility of developing vitamin B12 deficiency,” the study states.


Doctors said that meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and dairy products are good dietary sources of vitamin B12. “However, vegans who avoid consuming even milk and milk products and vegetarians are at a higher risk of developing the deficiency as plant-based sources of vitamin B12 are limited,” she said.


She said that vitamin B12 deficiency can cause unnatural skin darkening and even hyperpigmentation. “The unnatural darkening of the skin or in some cases, hyperpigmentation is caused due to excess melanin production as vitamin B12 deficiency interferes with the melanin production in the body. So, if your skin appears unnaturally dark or dull it indicates that you have be suffering from vitamin deficiency,” she said.


“At the same time, pigmentary changes in the form of pigmentation of knuckles, oral mucosa, and Addisonian pigmentation have also been described in Vitamin B12 deficiency,” she added.


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Author: Prashant Rupera


Publish On: April 20, 2023.



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