Our expert says:
Your tiredness is most probably related to your low body iron levels, which is relatively common in vegetarians. You need to return to the doctor and ask him/her to test your serum ferritin levels and vitamin B12 levels which will indicate if you are suffering from iron-deficiency or vit B12-deficiency anaemia. The prime symptoms of both anaemias are overwhelming tiredness, inability to concentrate, irritability and paleness. Plant foods are not a good source of fully available iron and they do not contain vit B12. If you do have one of these anaemias the doctor will prescribe an iron-folic acid supplement or a vit B12 supplement. You may need to take the supplement for a long time because it can take 3 months or longer for depleted body iron stores to be replenished. You don't indicate if you are a strict vegetarian or an ovo-lacto-vegetarian. Foods that contain iron include egg yolk, dried fruit like raisins, iron-fortified breakfast cereals and all maize meal and wheat flour/bread/products sold in SA (maize meal and wheat flour are fortified with iron in SA). Have a glass of orange juice or half a grapefruit with your iron-fortified breakfast cereal or maize meal porridge because vit C in citrus and other fruits helps the absorption of iron. If you have a vit B12 deficiency then you may need to use vit B12 supplements permanently.
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