If you follow a vegetarian diet, then it's important to monitor your vitamin B12 levels, in order to avoid vitamin B12 deficiency. Vegetarians are a high risk factor because they refrain from eating foods that are highest in vitamin B12, such as beef, chicken, and lamb. For vegetarians who also avoid dairy, fish, and egg products, then it is all the more crucial to supplement with vitamin B12.
Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms
Vitamin B12 is instrumental for maintaining various bodily functions, and a depletion of vitamin B12 can likewise cause severe debilitating impairments that are treatable with supplementation of vegetarian-approved vitamin B12.
Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms range from nervous system damage, cognitive decline, mood disorders, anemia, and dwindling stores of energy.
Common symptoms include:
- Chronic fatigue
- Depression and anxiety
- Confusion (brain fog)
- Frequent memory loss
- Painful tingling in the hands and feet
- Muscular soreness and weakness
- Eye twitching, spasms
- ision problems
- Sore, red tongue
- Burning mouth sensation
- Difficulty walking (gait problems)
Diagnosing vitamin B12 deficiency
In order to prevent vitamin B12 deficiency, vegetarians must first visit a doctor and request a blood test.
Even if the test comes back normal, your doctor should pay close attention to any symptoms that suggest vitamin B12 deficiency, as lab tests are not efficient indicators of low vitamin B12 levels.
Vegetarian moms and vitamin B12 deficiency risks
Vegetarians who neglect to keep their vitamin B12 stores replenished put their unborn children at risk, as well.
From the day you begin family planning, the amount of vitamin B12 you have in your blood supply will determine whether your baby suffers from vitamin B12 deficiency.
In an oft-cited study on vegetarian mothers who exclusively breastfed their babies, scientists noted failure to thrive and fatigue in infants born to women with vitamin B12 deficiency.
It takes years for an adult to develop vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms, but for an infant on a strict vegetarian diet, impairments can occur over a matter of days.
Vegetarian vitamin B12 treatments
Although dietary sources of vitamin B12 are animal-based, supplements that provide cobalamin are acceptable for vegetarian consumers.
Popular venues of vitamin B12 include vitamin B12 injections, sublingual vitamin B12 tablets, liquid vitamin B12 sublingual drops, and a variety of inexpensive over-the-counter (OTC) vitamin B12 options.