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Strict vegetarians are at risk of Vitamin B12 deficiency

Vitamin B12, as well known as cobalamin is vital for good health. Vitamin B12 is contains in animal protein such as meat, dairy products and eggs. Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause muscle weakness, neurological abnormalities, low blood pressure, vision problems and even psychological confusion and mood disturbances.

Vegetarians are at Risk as are Others

Strict vegetarians are at risk of vitamin B12 deficiency. The risk factors also are elderly, babys who are solely breastfed, and those people who need additional vitamin B-12 associated with pregnancy, hyperthyroidism, the body’s inability to make sufficient red blood cells, heavy bleeding, cancers, liver or kidney disease.

Pernicious anemia is poor vitamin B12 absorption caused by conditions such as Crohn’s disease, surgical removal of part of the stomach or intestine, intestinal parasites, HIV infection or lack of intrinsic factor.

Intrinsic factor, a protein secreted by cells in the stomach, helps the body to absorb B12. If this protein is lacking, it results in pernicious anemia (meaning deadly or fatal, which this type of anemia was until vitamin B12 shots became offered).

Human Storage of Vitamin B12 is Impressive

The human liver stores large amounts of offered Vitamin B12, so it may take years before symptoms of deficiency appear. However, once these stores are depleted , even slightly lower than normal levels of Vitamin B-12 can present symptoms of deficiency. Especially at risk are strict vegetarians who eat no animal protein. Nutritional consensus is that no plant foods are reliable and safe sources of vitamin B12.

Therefore there are two choices vegetarians can make to ensure continued good health. The first is to become an ovo-lacto vegetarian, which is a vegetarian who also eats eggs and/or dairy products. Secondly, vegetarians can eat foods that have been fortified with Vitamin B12 such as breakfast cereals, soy milks, vegetable and sunflower margarines, yeast extracts, some veggie burger mixes and textured vegetable protein. Vegetarians must read labels to confirm that B12 has been added to the product.

As a last resort, vitamin B12 can also be administered by mouth, by hypodermic injection into muscle tissue or as a nasal spray, to correct dietary B12 deficiency.

Vegetarians, with only a slight adjustment to diet and attention to choices of healthful foods that contain vitamin B12 can continue to choose Vegetarianism as a way of life.

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