Vegetarians - Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Vegetarians - Vitamin B12 Deficiency

If you choose not to eat foods from the dairy group, you need to consume other foods that are rich in calcium e.g. green leafy vegetables, legumes and calcium-fortified soymilk or orange juice.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Many long-term total vegetarians (vegetarians who do not use any eggs, meat, fish, poultry or dairy products) are at risk of vitamin D12 deficiency. Unlike some other B vitamins, B12 is not found in any plant foods.

Vitamin B12 helps maintain healthy nerves and red blood cells and is also needed to make DNA, which makes it especially important that pregnant and nursing women consume enough. Vitamin B12 deficiency can boost levels of homocystine, an amino acid that promotes blockages in arteries, which, over time, can lead to heart disease and stroke.

Symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency (usually gradual) include: fatigue, weakness, nausea and constipation. Severe vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to nerve changes such as numbness, tingling in the hands and feet, balance and memory problems and depression.

Reliable Vegetarian Sources of Vitamin B12

- Fortified cereal. (It is recommended to check the label of your favorite cereal since manufacturers have been known to stop including vitamin B12).

- Fortified soy milk and fortified meat analogues (food made from wheat gluten or soybeans to resemble meat, poultry or fish).

- Vitamin B12 supplements (There are vitamin supplements which do not contain animal products; long-term vegetarians who are taking antacids or have problems should consider taking these, for fortified cereals may not suffice).

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