11 doctors weighed in:

Can vegetarians develop a vitamin B12 deficiency?

11 doctors weighed in
Dr. Bryan Levey
Pediatrics
6 doctors agree

In brief: 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.

In brief: 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.
Dr. Bryan Levey
Dr. Bryan Levey
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3 comments
Dr. Robert Lang
Unless you eat seaweed, vegetarians are also at risk for iodine deficiency
Dr. Ed Friedlander
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.
Dr. Harold Peltan
Ophthalmology
2 doctors agree

In brief: 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.

In brief: 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.
Dr. Harold Peltan
Dr. Harold Peltan
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Dr. Ed Friedlander
Pathology
1 doctor agrees

In brief: 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.

In brief: 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.
Dr. Ed Friedlander
Dr. Ed Friedlander
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