He couldn’t stand most kinds of meat. He never ate fruit. And vegetables? Forget about it.
The teenager ate nothing but French fries, Pringles potato chips, white bread, and processed ham and sausage. He took the Western diet to its extreme.
The result? He suffered a severe deficiency that caused him to go blind.
The tragic case is the subject of a case study in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.
It was written by Dr. Denize Atan. She treated the boy at the Bristol Eye Hospital in England. She said he became blind not because of what was in his diet, but what was not.
“He wasn’t eating nutritious and varied foods,” she said.
The boy, whose name has been withheld, had become a picky eater around age 11. He couldn’t stand certain food textures. Soon, he ate only a few processed carbs and meats.
The teenager saw his family doctor at age 14 because he had been feeling fatigued and had hearing and vision problems. The doctor diagnosed the boy with anemia and low bone density. He had a serious vitamin B12 deficiency and the doctor put him on supplements. But the doctor did nothing about the boy’s junk food diet.
Things rapidly went downhill when the boy stopped taking his supplements.
By age 17, the teen’s eyesight had drastically deteriorated and he was hospitalized. Dr. Atan found the boy was shockingly low not only in vitamin B12, but vitamin D, copper, and selenium.
The teen was diagnosed with nutritional optic neuropathy. That means his eye nerves were dying because they lacked crucial nutrients. At an earlier stage, improving his diet could have saved his eyesight. But now it was too late.
“He had blind spots right in the middle of his vision,” said Dr. Atan. The boy is now legally blind. He “can’t drive and would find it really difficult to read, watch TV, or discern faces,” she said.
Dr. Atan and her colleagues warn that cases such as this could become more common given the prevalence of junk food and vegan diets, both of which often lack B12. The main sources for B12 are animal foods.
It’s a cautionary tale for the many Americans who eat fast food every day. B12 is an “essential” vitamin. That means your body needs it but can’t produce it. You must get it from an outside source.
B12 is required for proper functioning of many parts of your body, including your brain, nerves, and blood cells.
B12 is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies. Those at risk include not only junk food eaters and vegans, but people who take heartburn drugs called proton pump inhibitors. They include Prilosec, Prevacid, Nexium. 
6 Best Sources of Vitamin B12
Adults need at least 2.4 mcg of B12 daily. The best sources of vitamin B12 include:
- Clams (84 mcg per 3-ounce serving)
- Liver (70.7 mcg per 3-ounce serving)
- Wild-caught salmon (4.9 mcg per 3-ounce serving)
- Grass-fed beef (1.5 mcg per 3-ounce serving)
- Plain full-fat Greek yogurt (1.3 mcg per 6-ounce serving)
- Full-fat milk (1.2 mcg per cup)
Vitamin B12 is also included in many supplement formulas. Look for those that contain the cyanocobalamin form of B12. It is better absorbed than another common form, methylcobalamin.
The best defense against nutritional deficiencies is a varied, omnivorous diet (meats and plants) that includes plenty of natural, unprocessed foods.
Editor’s Note: If you’re tempted to join the growing number of people who are going vegan or vegetarian, there’s something you should know… Giving up meat can trigger cognitive impairment and mental illness.
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