A 25-year-old member asked:
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can vegetarians develop a vitamin b12 deficiency?

3 doctor answers
Dr. Bryan Levey
26 years experience Pediatrics
Yes: Vitamin B12 is essential to the blood and nervous systems. It is typically found in fish, shellfish, meat, eggs, and dairy products. Among vegetarians, strict vegans are most at risk for deficiency.
Answered on Feb 22, 2016
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Dr. Bryan Levey
Dr. Bryan Levey commented
26 years experience Pediatrics
Provided original answer
Hard to get sufficient vit D from diet, vegetarian or not.
Oct 21, 2012
Dr. Ed Friedlander
43 years experience Pathology
A vegetarian who does not know EXACTLY what he/she is doing is also asking for deficiency in iron, vitamin D, iron, several others, and on some of the really crazy diets even vitamin A. The rigorous studies show little or no benefit in terms of longevity, but many people feel that a vegetarian diet makes them feel better and is a strong protest against factory farming of animals -- which bothers me very much as well.
Oct 21, 2012
Dr. Robert Lang
Dr. Robert Lang commented
51 years experience Endocrinology
Unless you eat seaweed, vegetarians are also at risk for iodine deficiency
Oct 15, 2011
Dr. Harold Peltan
27 years experience Ophthalmology
Yes: One study found that 92% of vegans had vitamin b 12 deficiency, which can cause elevated homocyteine levels and higher risk of heart disease and stroke.Vitamin B12 deficiency also leads to anemia. Symptoms include fatigue, weakness, nausea, and constipation. Long-term and severe vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to nerve changes such as numbness, tingling, and depression. Supplements are available.
Answered on Apr 3, 2016
Dr. Ed Friedlander
43 years experience Pathology
It's to be expected: Vegetarianism is a moral rather than a health-promoting choice. Strict vegetarians who don't supplement become seriously sick. B12 deficiency is inevitable if you do not supplement. It can cause brain damage within a few months. It's almost impossible to get enough iron, enough calcium, and enough of several other things. Your physician is your best guide here.
Answered on Aug 18, 2014

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