University of Kent

Improving the health of vegetarians and vegans

University of Kent scientists have discovered how the diets of vegetarians and vegans could be improved by increasing the amount of Vitamin B12 in plants, which are normally lacking this nutrient altogether.

Vitamin B12 (known as cobalamin) is essential to the human diet but vegetarians are more prone to B12 deficiency as plants neither make nor need it.

A team, led by Professor Martin Warren at the University’s School of Biosciences, proved that common garden cress can indeed take up cobalamin. Such nutrient-enriched plants could help overcome dietary limitations in countries like India, which have a high proportion of vegetarians.

The discovery may be significant to address the global challenge of providing a nutrient-complete vegetarian diet - a valuable development as the world becomes increasingly meat-free due to population expansion.