Research and studies suggest that a strict vegetarian diet — one that excludes all animal products — can lead to vitamin B-12 deficiency, and possibly heart disease. Now, new research suggests that even those who follow a more lenient vegetarian diet (those who consume milk and dairy products) are also at risk.
Vitamin B12 is prominently found in animal based foods: meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and dairy products. Most of the Indians who are vegetarians are deficient in Vitamin B12. While it is fairly easy to correct a Vitamin B12 deficiency through supplements, most of us are ignorant of our condition and do not go for a diagnosis. People who consume antacids are also at a risk of vitamin B12 deficiency since it interferes with the absorption.
Vitamin B12 helps maintain healthy nerve and red blood cells and is also needed to make DNA, which is why it’s especially important that pregnant and nursing women consume enough.
Vitamin B12 deficiency leads to anemia. Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency, which usually come on gradually, include fatigue, weakness, nausea, and constipation. Long-term and severe vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to nerve changes such as numbness, tingling in the hands and feet, balance and memory problems, and depression.
A blood test is the best way to test for vitamin B12 deficiency, and Metropolis recommends that all vegetarians get tested every year.