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Vegan of 2+ years with health problems...

Hi all,

I'm new to VegWeb! I'm writing with a query, in hopes someone has experienced what I'm currently going through. I'm a vegan of over 2 years, and am recently having some pretty bad health problems. Low energy, loss of hair and hair quality, weakening of teeth, easy to bruise.

I only eat whole grains, and do not consume refined sugars or processed oils. I take a calcium supplement, as well as a vitamin B complex supplement and a vegan prenatal. The prenatal is comprehensive - B, Mg, D, Iron, etc.

I'm really at my wits end about these health problems. I'm also active in sports and eat a really varied diet (plenty of vegetables, grains, protein from soy and vital wheat gluten, and good oils). I've always been really proud of how I eat, in terms of ethical choices and healthy choices.

I've been checked for a thyroid problem, negative, and for HIV+ (this was a LONG shot, but I thought it would be good to check anyways), which was negative.

Any ideas? sorry if this thread is utterly irrelevant, but my online research and consultant with a nutrition specialist were fruitless. No one seems to know much about veganism, short of uninformed propaganda against it. I'm hoping to get some real experience answers!

Thanks!

If you have low energy, weaking of teeth enamel and hair loss, you might want to ask to be tested for a gluten allergy. It tends to still be overlooked by health professionals. There is a symptom checklist on Celiac org's web site. You might want to try it.

Good luck!

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I'm really sorry to hear this. I've been vegan 4-5 years and have had no health problems, really quite the opposite. I can tell you that, for as much as I love being vegan, if I felt my health was failing due to veganism, I would stop. Have you had a blood workup done? The last time my girlfriend went to the doctor she got a record of all her vitamin and mineral levels.

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i'll second ljette - get a complete bloodwork put together to see what it going on (blood counts, vitamins/minerals, organ function, etc). since it sounds like you have a solid vegan diet going on, i am suspicious that it is something unrelated to diet. i would esp. check out iron levels.

is depression possible? i know it might be a shot, but i have a lot of those symptoms (bruising, hair loss, low energy) when my meds are off.

i'm not sure if it is in your budget, but there are several doctors who are pretty well known in the US that specialize in vegan/plant based diets. it might be worth trying to see if you can get a consult with one of them if a complete screen doesn't help provide answers.

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How about zinc?  I forget what exactly it does, but I know when I was reading "Becoming Vegan" it seemed like zinc does a whole lot more in our bodies than we would expect and yet not enough vegans get enough of it because we don't think about it (doesn't get the hype like iron and B12).  Also, are you getting enough omega-3's?  Another thing to look at: have you been losing weight since you went vegan?  I know you say you eat a pretty wholesome diet (which is awesome, btw) and that you are active.  I know that for me when I cut out all the refined sugars and grains in my diet I'll feel really great for a while, but then I start feeling really awful because I just don't get enough calories to keep me going.  So maybe monitor what you are eating and make sure you are taking in enough energy every day.
I hope you're able to get things sorted out.  I know how frustrating it can be to be super healthy and not feel like it.

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do you eat any fruit?

it's probably not diet, but if i were you i'd increase raw fruit and veggies and decrease fat as much as you can.

try to concentrate on alkalizing foods. get enough calories.

that being said, there's a good possibility it's not diet related.

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loss ot hair and energy, there are so many things. Do you eat nuts? or seeds? zinc i think is one there, getting viatmin E is also or OMEGA 3  helpful. Oils in your diet, maybe you should tale flaxseed oil or eat more walnuts.. ? I have never had these problems but because of my ezcema i usually have flaxsed or omega 3 oil, even hemp oil which is more tasty though hard to get in some countires.

But i was seriouslly rethink about taking calcium tablets, they decrease you absorbsion of other vitamins. It would be better having calcium enriched soy milk. I rarely have anything with calcium enrichment nor tablets and ive been fine for 6 years. Also if you eat thing items that have vitaminc C and iron it will help you absorb the iron.

I would suggest like others to get a blood test and see if you lack anything. Maye vitamin B12? or B vitamins in general.

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Another one chiming in to say get tested for a gluten allergy. It can cause all the symptoms you describe, and can affect your health brutally if you have one and don't know it.

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the symptoms you describe deffinitely sound like celiac.  Its worth a blood test and maybe an upper GI to be sure.  It it is and you take the gluten out of your diet, you will start to feel better almost immediately.  BUT don't remove any gluten from your diet before getting the tests done, or you may get a false negative.

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I'm shocked no one admitted it yet but you should get tested for B12 deficiency. Just because you are supplementing doesn't mean you are absorbing it properly.

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