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Original Research

Megaloblastic anemia and non-vegetarian diet – Is there a changing trend?

Shanu Srivastava, Tushar Sharan, Abhiram Behera.


Background: According to various studies, non-vegetarians are not at an inherent risk of developing megaloblastic anemia, a common deficiency of Vitamin B12. However, recent trends of the consumption of non-vegetarian food in the processed form as well as changes in cooking methods may gradually change the trend of the occurrence of megaloblastic anemia in nonvegetarians. Very few studies have been conducted on the same in a non-vegetarian population.

Objectives: The objective of this study was to study the prevalence of megaloblastic anemia in a non-vegetarian population.

Materials and Methods: The study was conducted on 100 non-vegetarian adults after due approval of the institutional ethics committee. The patients were evaluated on the basis of their hematological profile including peripheral smear examination and indices.

Results: About 29% of total patients presented with features suggestive of megaloblastic anemia, of which 72% of patients agreed to predominantly be consuming non-vegetarian food from processed sources such as fast-food outlets at an average frequency of 3 weeks.

Conclusion: There is a changing trend of megaloblastic anemia in the non-vegetarian population. Processing of food and change in conventional cooking practices along with the recent decline in home cooking of meat seem to be the major factors putting the non-vegetarians at a risk of developing megaloblastic anemia.

Key words: Megaloblastic Anemia; Vitamin B12 Deficiency; Peripheral Smear; Non-vegetarian

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