Vegetarian Vitamin Deficiency: What Vitamins do Vegetarians Lack?

Strict vegetarians, who are not taking adequate amount of animal proteins, are vulnerable to vegetarian vitamin deficiency. Vegetarian vitamin deficiency is nothing but vitamin B12 deficiency; people eating only vegetarian food, are at a risk of having vitamin B12 deficiency.

Vitamin B12 is an important water soluble vitamin, needed for various cell metabolisms.

It acts as coenzyme in chemical reactions leading to synthesis of DNA.

Vitamin B12 is necessary for normal production of blood, and to maintain the integrity of the nervous system.

Deficiency of this (B12) Vegetarian Vitamin is due to

  • Strict vegetarian diet.
  • Absence of intrinsic factor in the stomach. E.g. pernicious anemia.
  • Deficiency in absorption from the intestine. E.g. malabsorption syndrome, tropical sprue, abdominal tuberculosis.
  • Overgrowth of bacteria having affinity for vitamin B12 in the intestine.
  • Fish tapeworm.

Vegetarian Vitamin (B12) Deficiency Symptoms

  • Tingling numbness
  • Reduced sensation to pain and pressure.
  • Sore and smooth tongue.
  • Poor memory.
  • Confusion.
  • Personality changes.
  • Anemia.
  • Fatigue.

It is important to confirm the diagnosis by blood examination for vitamin B12 deficiency, as there are many other causes which also present with similar symptoms.


Vegetarians, who are deficient in B12 vitamin, are usually advised to eat fortified food, and take B12 supplementations.

Some of the other vegetarian nutrient deficiencies are: proteins, iron deficiency, zinc deficiency, vitamin B12 deficiency, vitamin D and iodine deficiency.

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