A member asked:

Can vegetarians develop a vitamin b12 deficiency?

11 doctors weighed in across 3 answers
Dr. Bryan Levey answered

Specializes in 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 2/22/2016

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Dr. Harold Peltan answered

Specializes in 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 4/3/2016

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Dr. Ed Friedlander answered

Specializes in 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 8/18/2014

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