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Thread: New vegan. Question about my health

  1. #1

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    Default New vegan. Question about my health

    Hello!

    I'm a new vegan from Switzerland. I was vegetarian for 17 years. I've been vegan for two months and I admit I'm a little worried. I've lost my energy, I feel very tired and dizzy and I have frequent headaches. This coincides with the start of my vegan diet. I'm taking a multi-vitamin and I eat lots of beans, legumes, fruits and vegetables. Therefore, I don't understand why I felt this way. I had a check-up and a blood analysis at the beginning of my vegan diet, which was very good. My iron level is not very high, but I don't have an iron deficiency. I have vegan friends who are very healthy, thus I don't understand and I'm wondering if veganism is right for my body. Believe me, I agree 100% with the vegan philosophy (otherwise, I wouldn't have gone vegan), but I felt much better when I was only vegetarian, which makes me consider giving up veganism to come back to vegetarianism (I feel heartbroken to write it, but...). I'm going to the US in three weeks and I've been waiting for trip for a very long time and I want to feel better and to have energy when I'm there.
    What do you think about my situation?


  2. #2
    Ex-admin Korn's Avatar
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    Default Re: New vegan-question about my health

    Hi, and welcome!
    What do you think about my situation?
    Since I'm not a doctor and don't know you, that would be pure speculation. If it has anything to do with your diet, the only way to find out is to take a blood test. Most people feel better and have more energy after having gone vegan, and there are no nutrients you need dairy products to get. The best thing is to check your nutrient levels. Make sure that they take a MMA test when they take a B12 test.

    Lacto-vegetarians, people on omnivorous diets, vegans etc. all have nutrients they need to pay special attention to. The main thing to look out for on a vegan diet is B12, as explained in circa 100 other threads – like eg. this one.

    There are people who have lived on a vegan diet for decades without the problems you describe – including Donald Watson, one of the main founders of the vegan movement. But vegan food isn't a miracle cure - like everybody else, we simply need to make sure we get the nutrients we need, and supplement when needed.

    Check this thread: Nutrient deficiencies more common in meat eaters than in vegans?


    Good luck!
    Last edited by Korn; Jun 26th, 2012 at 01:37 PM. Reason: Added link
    I will not eat anything that walks, swims, flies, runs, skips, hops or crawls.

  3. #3
    baffled harpy's Avatar
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    Default Re: New vegan-question about my health

    Hello. Have you checked you're getting enough calories? A vegan diet is usually relatively bulky so you may find that you need to eat more to get enough energy. You might also want to pay attention to the glycemic/glycaemic load of your meals (lots about this on the internet) in case you are having blood sugar peaks and troughs, which can make you feel dizzy etc.

    I don't know of any nutrient deficiencies that would make themselves apparent in just 2 months, unless maybe you were borderline deficient in something beforehand. Are you making sure that you get enough iron, since you say you were not high in that?

  4. #4
    Lentils's Avatar
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    Default Re: New vegan-question about my health

    Likely just not getting enough calories, has your weight changed at all? Dairy products are typically very calorie dense, even the low fat ones usually have added sugar, so replacing them with equal sized servings of non-dairy may have resulted in a large calorie deficit.

  5. #5

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    Default Re: New vegan-question about my health

    Thanks for your answers!
    I would be surprised if I had a B12 deficiency, as I take multivitamins everyday that contain more than double the required amount of vitamin B12. I also often eat fortified foods. As for iron, my doctor says I shouldn't worry and I trust him.
    Maybe I'm not getting enough calories. I'm not a big eater. However, I have put on weight since I decided to go vegan (+1kg), thus I'm a bit lost.
    Here what I ate yesterday:

    Breakfast: cereals with soy milk + orange juice
    Lunch: lentils, broccoli and amaranth curry with rice + soy yoghurt
    Afternoon: cereal bar + apple compote
    Dinner: millet and buckwheat burger with spinach + fruit

    I think I'll see my doctor before leaving for my trip. Although he does not support a vegan diet (but has nothing against it either), I do trust him.

    Thanks again for your answers!

  6. #6
    baffled harpy's Avatar
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    Default Re: New vegan-question about my health

    I think I might feel light-headed if I ate your breakfast and afternoon snack, especially if the cereal and cereal bar have added sugar. You could try adding some nuts to each, that would even out your blood sugar levels if that's the problem. Low blood sugar can cause headaches as well, apparently, though it doesn't in my case.

    Seeing your doctor seems sensible although doctors often don't know much about veganism. (Mine seems to think it- i.e. veganism - is quite a good idea though!)
    Last edited by harpy; Jun 26th, 2012 at 10:27 PM. Reason: clarify garbled bit!

  7. #7

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    Default Re: New vegan-question about my health

    Thanks for your answer.
    There's a question I'm wondering about: if I don't get enough calories, how can I do to get more, considering the fact that I'm not a big eater and that I don't want to put on more kilos?

  8. #8
    baffled harpy's Avatar
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    Default Re: New vegan-question about my health

    If your weight is stable you probably don't need more calories, but perhaps you need different ones.

    I really would recommend looking into the glyc(a)emic load/glyc(a)emic index thing if you haven't already done so. Paying attention to that aspect of diet can make a lot of difference to some people.

  9. #9
    TarekF's Avatar
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    Default Re: New vegan-question about my health

    Hermy, just wondering, as a vegetarian how much diary and egg did you eat? Was it very frequent? Or just occasionally?

    As far as the headaches and energy, i am not totally sure but i think korn is right that you should get an MMA test for B12. The symptoms definitely could be B12 deficiency. I have read that sublingual B12 vitamins are superior and as good as shots so maybe instead of a multivit some sublingual B12 would be good. These are the ones i use, i realize that that you are in switzerland but something like that (methyl-cobalamine is the best as far as absorption too). Usually i just take a small bite out of one every day (they are cheap, but i don't like the idea of going far above a recommended allowance, 1000mg seems way overkill). When i went vegan i started taking those and felt a (real or imagined) energy boost (though i was tested and was perfectly normal in the MMA test.

    As far as general dietary practices, i would try to get a bit more fat (nuts and such) and omega-3s (flaxseed, hemp, walnuts etc).

  10. #10

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    Default Re: New vegan-question about my health

    Quote TarekF View Post
    Hermy, just wondering, as a vegetarian how much diary and egg did you eat? Was it very frequent? Or just occasionally?

    As far as the headaches and energy, i am not totally sure but i think korn is right that you should get an MMA test for B12. The symptoms definitely could be B12 deficiency. I have read that sublingual B12 vitamins are superior and as good as shots so maybe instead of a multivit some sublingual B12 would be good. These are the ones i use, i realize that that you are in switzerland but something like that (methyl-cobalamine is the best as far as absorption too). Usually i just take a small bite out of one every day (they are cheap, but i don't like the idea of going far above a recommended allowance, 1000mg seems way overkill). When i went vegan i started taking those and felt a (real or imagined) energy boost (though i was tested and was perfectly normal in the MMA test.

    As far as general dietary practices, i would try to get a bit more fat (nuts and such) and omega-3s (flaxseed, hemp, walnuts etc).
    Thanks for your answer and sorry for my late reply.

    When I was vegetarian, I used to eat eggs and diary everyday, though not in huge quantities. For two days, I've been feeling a little better. I've added more nuts to my diet. I'm seeing my doctor tomorrow and I will ask him for a B12 test. I'll keep you updated.

  11. #11

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    Default Re: New vegan-question about my health

    Hello!

    I've got some news. My doctor gave me the results of my vitamin test. Folic acid and B12 are perfect and since I became a vegan, my iron level has significantly increased! Globally I seem to be healthy. My doctor thinks my fatigue and dizziness may be due to my low blood pressure. I don't know why, but since I started eating more nuts, I've been feeling a lot better! I'm happy about these good news!
    Thanks for having read and replied to my post!

  12. #12
    baffled harpy's Avatar
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    Default Re: New vegan-question about my health

    That's brilliant news, hermy, especially as eating nuts is quite enjoyable Thanks for the update.

  13. #13
    Draíochta Blueberries's Avatar
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    Default Re: New vegan-question about my health

    Quote hermy View Post
    I've been feeling a lot better! I'm happy about these good news!
    Congrats Hermy

  14. #14
    TarekF's Avatar
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    Default Re: New vegan-question about my health

    Great news! Im very happy for you

  15. #15

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    Default Re: New vegan-question about my health

    Hello Hermy, greetings from a vegan in Germany I do not know if you want to share the information, but it might help to know more about your gender, age group and BMI range.To know whether you get enough calories and vitamins, consider using a setvice like www.nutridiary.com.Best regards, Andy

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