Daily supplements containing Vitamin B12 can improve the cardiovascular health, thereby reducing the risk of atherosclerosis in vegetarians, according to a study conducted at Chinese University of Hong Kong.

The study titled, ‘Vitamin B-12 supplementation improves arterial function in vegetarians with subnormal vitamin B-12 status’, showed that the Vitamin B12 supplements enhance the arterial endothelial function and carotid intima-media thickness in vegetarians with sub-optimal B12 levels.

The persons, who were given daily supplements of the B vitamin, displayed better flow-mediated dilation (FMD), a measure of a blood vessel’s relaxing ability, the report published in The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging said.

The study included 43 healthy vegetarians with an average age of 45.

The researchers said that the aim of the new study was to test if 12 weeks of supplementation with 500 micrograms per day of the vitamin could improve vascular health.

The report showed a noticeable increase in blood levels of Vitamin B12 in the B12 groups, as well as lowering of homocysteine, an amino acid that when at high levels, can be associated to heart disease.

Daily supplementation of B12 also increased FMD from 6.3-6.9%, and 12 weeks of this process reduced the average thickness of the carotid artery walls from 0.69-0.67mm, the study said.

The researchers cautioned that the participants in the current study had low levels of B12 at the beginning of the trial, and it is doubtful that the supplementation will have the same effects in vegetarians with better vitamin B-12 status.

It is believed that vegetarians have a lesser risk of cardiovascular diseases, however, Vitamin B-12 deficiency, which is commonly asymptomatic, is prevalent among older people and vegetarians, according to the researchers.