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
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
Reliable Vegetarian Sources of
- 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).