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Thromb Res. 2000 Nov 1;100(3):153-60.

Cardiovascular risk factors in vegetarians. Normalization of hyperhomocysteinemia with vitamin B(12) and reduction of platelet aggregation with n-3 fatty acids.

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  • 1Departments of Hematology-Oncology, Catholic University of Chile, Santiago, Chile.


Hyperhomocysteinemia in association with vitamin B(12) deficiency, and increased platelet aggregation, probably due to dietary lack of n-3 fatty acids, constitute cardiovascular risk factors frequently observed in vegetarians. We tested if administration of vitamin B(12) normalizes the concentration of total plasma homocysteine, and if intake of eicosapentaenoic (20:5n-3) and docosahexaenoic (22:6n-3) fatty acids modulates platelet function in a population of lactoovovegetarians. One week after a single intramuscular injection of cyanocobalamin (10000 microg) in 18 individuals, serum vitamin B(12) increased from 149+/-63 pg/mL to 532+/-204 pg/mL (p<0.0001) and total tHcy dropped from 12.4+/-4.7 to 7.9+/-3.1 micromol/L (p<0. 0001). Ten of fourteen of these vegetarians completed an 8-week supplementation with 700 mg/day of each eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids. Increased incorporation of these fatty acids into plasma lipids was observed in all of them, together with a significant reduction in maximum percentage or slope of platelet aggregation with all the agonists tested (ADP, epinephrin, collagen, arachidonic acid). No significant change in bleeding time was observed after n-3 fatty acid trial. Supplementation with vitamin B(12) and n-3 fatty acids corrects hyperhomocysteinemia and reduces platelet reactivity to agonists in vegetarians. Whether this supplementation improves the already reduced cardiovascular morbidity and mortality associated with vegetarian diet has yet to be demonstrated.

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