The purpose of this research project was threefold: 1) to determine the present serum vitamin B-12 status in a select group of strict or total vegetarians all of whom had been vegetarian for six months or more. 2) to determine the daily intake of vitamin B-12, total calories, protein, % calories as fat, folic acid, and crude fiber on a total vegetarian diet. 3) to observe if subjects with low serum vitamin B-12 levels and low intakes of oral vitamin B-12 also had elevated methylmalonic acid (MMA) in the urine.

Six of the 19 serum vitamin B-12 levels were below normal. The mean daily intake of vitamin B-12 for the 16 subjects who completed their diet record was 0.4 micrograms/day (ug/day) (range 0.0-1.4 ug/day). Sources of vitamin B-12 included fortified cereals, meat analogues, tofu milk, and soy milk. The results of the urinary methylmalonic acid (UMMA) test from the casual and 24-hour urine specimens showed that 5 out of the 19 subjects (26%) had elevated UMMA indicating an inadequate vitamin B-12 to efficiently metabolize MMA that is produced. Finally, 5 out of the 6 subjects (83%) who had below normal serum vitamin B-12 levels also had elevated UMMA levels.

Based upon this study almost a third of the total vegetarians who did not actively take a cobalamin supplement had below normal serum vitamin B-12 levels. Of this group that had low serum vitamin B-12 levels 83% also had an elevated UMMA indicating a possible biochemical limitation in the body due to a lack of adequate vitamin B-12. It would therefore be prudent to strongly recommend that this population supplement their diet with a reliable vitamin B-12 source on a regular basis.




Graduate School

First Advisor

U. D. Register

Second Advisor

Lee Berk

Third Advisor

Kenneth Burke

Fourth Advisor

Patricia K. Johnston

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded


Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Diet; Vitamin B 12; Methylmalonic Acid; Vegetarianism



Page Count

vi; 46

Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Collection Website



Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives

Included in

Nutrition Commons