Vegetarians are at an early risk of mental disorder such as dementia and alzheimer's as they develop a Vitamin B-12 deficiency, doctors said here Wednesday.
Fish, shellfish, meat, eggs, milk and their by-products are some of the biggest sources of Vitamin B-12.
"Deficiency of Vitamin B-12 can reduce working capacity of the brain and result in progressive memory loss that has an impact on day to day activities," Praveen Gupta, consultant neurologist at Artemis Health Institute in Gurgaon, told IANS.
"Since majority of the Indian population is vegetarian and milk consumption has reduced considerably, they are more prone to early onset of dementia. Those who suffer from lactose intolerance are also at risk," Gupta explained.According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), India had nearly 3.5 million alzheimer's and dementia patients in the year 2000.
"We see at least 30 patients under the age of 40 every month -- suffering from memory loss and other manifestations due to deficiency of vitamin B-12. Once diagnosed, these patients respond very well to vitamin B-12 supplements," Gupta added.
Forgetting day to day activities, names of familiar people, frequent irritability, panic episodes and depression are some of the common symptoms of the mental disorder.
The disease can be diagnosed with a simple blood test, say doctors.
WHO estimates that there are currently about 18 million people worldwide suffering from Alzheimer's. The figure is projected to nearly double by 2025.