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 Post subject: Extreme Exhaustion
PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2012 9:46 pm 
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I have been vegan for almost 6 years and had a healthy pregnancy during this time as well. I have always felt amazing on a vegan diet up until the past year. It got really bad in November. I was soooo very exhausted. I went to the doctor 3 times over several months. He checked everything. Iron, B12, liver, thyroid, etc, etc. everything came back perfect. He told me I was just tired because of my two year old. I just didn't see how it was possible. It's such a different tired. Fast forward to two weeks ago. For over a month, I couldn't get through a day without a nap. The exhaustion never left. It took everything I had to get out of bed. I was feeling confused, forgetful, felt like I had to concentrate just to stay conscious. I was becoming scared to drive. It just kept getting worse. Meanwhile, my daughter has been battling a rash and while Googling that (we ended up finding out she has a soy allergy), I discovered many ex vegans that felt this way. I was shocked and didn't believe it. They all felt better after eating meat. I was very suspicious but was so tired of feeling foggy and exhausted. I was feeling so awful, that I had my husband pick up some salmon for dinner. I cried while I ate it, but was feeling so awful, I was desperate to try anything. I felt better, clearer, less lethargic. I ate it again for 2 more days and each day felt even better. I went back to vegan for two days because I hated what I was doing but started to feel really bad again. I ate fish the next day and felt better. Not myself 100% but better than I have felt in a very long time.
I don't want to go back to eating animals. I can't accept that "some people just need meat." So I am not asking for you to judge me for the whole fish thing, but I am asking for your help. Have any of you felt this way? Do you know what could cause these scary side effects? As I said, my iron and B12 levels were perfect. I eat a healthy well balanced diet to include fats, proteins, lots of fruits and veggies, and quality grains. I take a vegan multivitamin, take an extra B12 once a week, and take Udo's oil every day. I am so careful about what I eat. I feel like I get enough protein. I got enough to have a healthy baby so I don't see how it's not enough now.
I read that no society has lived on a vegan diet for long and we are meant to have animal products. I just can't accept that. I am hoping there is something I am doing wrong that some of you might notice. I believe in veganism with all my heart, but I need my health so I can be the best mom possible to my daughter. Thanks.


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 Post subject: Re: Extreme Exhaustion
PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2012 9:51 pm 
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I'd probably go for a second opinion about my vitamin levels. If you felt that much better after eating meat, then maybe it was a vitamin that had a false reading or wasn't checked properly. there are a few different tests for iron. It sounds like your doc didnt' really take you seriously when he said you're just tired from raising your daughter. that alone would make me want another opinion.

I wouldn't put too much stock into what ex vegans on the internet say. However, you should do what's best for you. Have you seen a registered dietitian? They might recommend that you keep a detailed food diary to try to figure out if there's any connection between your fatigue and your diet.

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 Post subject: Re: Extreme Exhaustion
PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2012 10:03 pm 
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I guess I believed the tests because my iron levels were identical to when they were checked a few years ago. And my multivitamin provides the RDA. I also try to include vitamin C with my iron sources and avoid caffeine with it as well.
Last week I took my daughter to a chiropractic internist for her rash (they diagnosed the soy allergy) and talked to her. She is a doctor that believes in food as medicine. She recommended I keep a journal and told me about a website where I can track my nutrients, but I don't feel the site was accurate. Plus I have been too exhausted to think clearly and really keep an accurate record.
I haven't changed my diet for 6 years so I just can't figure out what changed or what's lacking.
I appreciate your input!


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 Post subject: Re: Extreme Exhaustion
PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2012 10:11 pm 
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Some of those sites definitely are not accurate. You can use the one on the USDA MyPlate site. It's pretty accurate, but unfortunately doesn't have a lot of vegan products. NutritionData.com is also pretty accurate. Do you remember which iron test you got? Calcium can also block iron absorption, so if you take a calcium supplement, try not to take it at the same time as iron and try not to take your iron with calcium fortified beverages. It's more common in toddlers who drink a lot of milk to become iron deficient from that, but you never know. You might also need something more than the RDA if turns out you are anemic.
You could also try including your sleep schedule if you track your food and make sure to write down how you were feeling that day, so that you can have everything written down all in one place. If it has something to do with protein, it might also be that you weren't getting as much as you thought you were. I think sometimes vegans and vegetarians can get too comfortable thinking that all food has some protein, so they're getting enough, but it's not always true.

I'm definitely not trying to diagnose you, but I can't imagine that the problem is really a lack of meat in your diet. Meat might be making you feel better, but like you said, it's probably not the underlying cause!

Keep us posted and maybe ask your doc for a referral to an RD?

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 Post subject: Re: Extreme Exhaustion
PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 2:31 am 
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Did they check your ferritin levels? You can have totally normal-looking blood cells, not be anaemic and still have depleted iron stores. The dosage to refill those stores is much higher than anything you would get from eating meat or taking a multi. I'm a bit skeptical that the fish isn't having a bit of a placebo effect. It seems to have "worked" awfully quickly, and I would be wondering the same thing if it was any other single food. My high-dose iron took a while (my ferritin was low-end of normal; nothing to do with diet, just heavy periods).


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 Post subject: Re: Extreme Exhaustion
PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 2:58 am 
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Chipmunk wrote:
I'm a bit skeptical that the fish isn't having a bit of a placebo effect. It seems to have "worked" awfully quickly, and I would be wondering the same thing if it was any other single food.


This. Whatever made you feel better, I'd bet my pay check it wasn't that poor fish. It's just so unlikely that one meal of anything would have enough whatever-it-is to magically correct a nutritional deficiency - and even super-high dose B vits given intravenously or as a series of shots don't work that quickly. That said, it's really, really important not to ignore your symptoms or be fobbed off by a doctor who doesn't have your best interests at heart.

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 Post subject: Re: Extreme Exhaustion
PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 3:45 am 
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Dawley wrote:
He told me I was just tired because of my two year old. I just didn't see how it was possible. It's such a different tired. Fast forward to two weeks ago. For over a month, I couldn't get through a day without a nap. The exhaustion never left. It took everything I had to get out of bed. I was feeling confused, forgetful, felt like I had to concentrate just to stay conscious.


When I read this, I'm start to think you might have a depression instead of a nutrient deficiency.

Quote:
Meanwhile, my daughter has been battling a rash and while Googling that (we ended up finding out she has a soy allergy), I discovered many ex vegans that felt this way. I was shocked and didn't believe it. They all felt better after eating meat. I was very suspicious but was so tired of feeling foggy and exhausted. I was feeling so awful, that I had my husband pick up some salmon for dinner.


Your daughter battling a rash is something that could have put a strain on you that might have lead to this. (depression / burn-out)

I also wonder how supporting your husband is about your veganism. If he isn't ok with that or doesn't fully agree on raising your kid vegan (assuming you do), that could also give extra stress for you to cope with.


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 Post subject: Re: Extreme Exhaustion
PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 5:48 am 
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Veg_Eric wrote:
Dawley wrote:
He told me I was just tired because of my two year old. I just didn't see how it was possible. It's such a different tired. Fast forward to two weeks ago. For over a month, I couldn't get through a day without a nap. The exhaustion never left. It took everything I had to get out of bed. I was feeling confused, forgetful, felt like I had to concentrate just to stay conscious.


When I read this, I'm start to think you might have a depression instead of a nutrient deficiency.

Quote:
Meanwhile, my daughter has been battling a rash and while Googling that (we ended up finding out she has a soy allergy), I discovered many ex vegans that felt this way. I was shocked and didn't believe it. They all felt better after eating meat. I was very suspicious but was so tired of feeling foggy and exhausted. I was feeling so awful, that I had my husband pick up some salmon for dinner.


Your daughter battling a rash is something that could have put a strain on you that might have lead to this. (depression / burn-out)

I also wonder how supporting your husband is about your veganism. If he isn't ok with that or doesn't fully agree on raising your kid vegan (assuming you do), that could also give extra stress for you to cope with.


These are both valid points. If your daughter has a rash, please take her to a doctor. I don't think food allergies should be diagnosed using the internet.

The only thing that eating fish would magically solve is an overall lack of calories. Do you eat enough food during the day?

I would take what ex-vegans say with a grain of salt. They usually have an agenda that colors what they write.

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 Post subject: Re: Extreme Exhaustion
PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 7:20 am 
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What everybody else has said, especially the GOING TO A DOCTOR part.

Even changing from a really unhealthy diet to a healthy one, it will take time for positive changes to occur--not the span of one meal.

Besides any agenda, many ex-vegs are ex-vegs because they were eating badly. One of my old roommates went veg and ate nothing by soy hot dogs for 6 months. When she got sick, she decided that a veg diet is really unhealthy, when it is the soy-dogs-only diet that is unhealthy.

I've had similar symptoms from both anemia and depression. My ferritin levels are always in the basement due to medical issues not related to diet. My iron levels right now are actually decent--actually for me, phenomenol, but the iron stores still suck and I still feel like crepe most of the time. I also get B12 shots even though I'm not low because my dr says it should help and should support the iron treatments.

There isn't anything in fish that you can't get from plant sources. You can always try adding in some omegas/flax seed oil into your diet.

Good luck!

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 Post subject: Re: Extreme Exhaustion
PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 8:11 am 
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You didn't mention whether vitamin D was amongst the things they checked for. It probably was, but just in case, I thought it was worth mentioning. Vitamin D deficiency can lead to both depression and exhaustion, and is epidemic in certain areas of the world where sunshine isn't a given year round. (This goes for vegans and omnis alike. It's hard to get enough vitamin D from food sources.) I've been eating a well-rounded diet, but live in one of the rainier parts of the world and a recent blood panel indicated that everything else is ok, but I'm extremely low on D. The same thing happened with my ovo-lacto sister and my omni partner. My sis really thought there was something seriously wrong with her because her energy was absolutely zero and she would get dizzy at the slightest exertion. They told her at first that she was just tired from being a single parent. It was only when she switched doctors and they ran more blood tests that they found the deficiency.

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 Post subject: Re: Extreme Exhaustion
PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 8:30 am 
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lepelaar wrote:
You didn't mention whether vitamin D was amongst the things they checked for. It probably was, but just in case, I thought it was worth mentioning. Vitamin D deficiency can lead to both depression and exhaustion, and is epidemic in certain areas of the world where sunshine isn't a given year round. (This goes for vegans and omnis alike. It's hard to get enough vitamin D from food sources.) I've been eating a well-rounded diet, but live in one of the rainier parts of the world and a recent blood panel indicated that everything else is ok, but I'm extremely low on D. The same thing happened with my ovo-lacto sister and my omni partner. My sis really thought there was something seriously wrong with her because her energy was absolutely zero and she would get dizzy at the slightest exertion. They told her at first that she was just tired from being a single parent. It was only when she switched doctors and they ran more blood tests that they found the deficiency.


Good point. My doctor put me on prescription vitamin D. I have to take one a month for a year.

If you get a full spectrum work up, your doctor should catch any of this stuff.

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 Post subject: Re: Extreme Exhaustion
PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 9:04 am 
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By any chance are you still nursing your daughter? I have been feeling extremely run down lately because my almost one year old has an ear infection and is teething and he is nursing constantly and I can't eat enough nutrient dense food to feel good right now.


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 Post subject: Re: Extreme Exhaustion
PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 9:14 am 
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First if all, I did take my daughter to the doctor as I said in my previous post. Her normal pediatrician wanted to keep giving her doses of antibiotics (30-day doses). I felt it was just masking an underlying cause so I got a second opinion. The chiropractic internist (she has two doctorates and is a natural minded med doctor) diagnosed the soy allergy. I was just reading more about it on the internet. I wasn't self diagnosing.
Also, I didn't feel 100% after one meal of fish. I still don't feel 100% but each time I have eaten fish, I have felt a little better. It's like a cumulative effect. I asked not for judgment on eating "the poor fish" but for help so I can return to veganism. That one fish was not a miracle cure. But it helped. And something in the fish is something I am lacking in my diet. Yes, I know I can get it from plants, but when you are feeling so exhausted and confused (I can't even explain to my family and make them understand how extreme and scary it felt), you will try anything.
Also, my husband has always been supportive of my veganism and raising our daughter that way. He eats mostly vegan himself.
I didn't have Vitamin D checked as far as I know. I will have to ask my doctor and also see which kind of iron test he did. I didn't know there were different tests or that you could still have low levels even if it doesn't show up. Very interesting.
I do agree that whatever I am lacking was causing me to feel depressed. I think it has caused anxiety as well. I know that if vegans aren't careful, we can be prone to that.
And to clarify, I am not a junk food vegan. I am careful about what we eat. Tempeh, seitan, beans, quinoa, millet, rice, leafy freens, a variety of veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, etc. i try to avoid processed foods with the exception of nondairy milk and the occasional coconut milk ice cream or Gardein for dinner in a hurry.
Thanks to all for your feedback. I will definitely be talking to my doctor about all of this. Hopefully we can figure things out without harming any more fish.:/


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 Post subject: Re: Extreme Exhaustion
PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 9:24 am 
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Also, any idea why I would have low levels if I eat a varied whole foods diet and use that vegan multivitamin as insurance? I always assumed that was enough to stay healthy. Thanks.


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 Post subject: Re: Extreme Exhaustion
PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 9:33 am 
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Different people have different metabolisms and absorb nutrients differently. For most of my life I've been borderline anemic; I just can't absorb enough iron from food. If I go off the prescription strength iron supplements, I'll probably end up back in the hospital, no matter what I eat.

Depression can cause some of these symptoms. Nobody here can diagnose you--just something we are throwing out based on personal experience.

(check your multivitamin--some of them have vitamins that cancel each other out, like iron and calcium.)

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 Post subject: Re: Extreme Exhaustion
PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 9:54 am 
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Have you seen the book Vegan for Life? I found it really helpful for figuring out what all your nutrient needs are and what they all do. It is science based and really informative.

It sounds like it could be vitamin D, a lot of vegans are low in that and it can be tough to supplement because there is vitamin D2 and D3. D3 is supposed to be better but harder to find from a vegan source. I just started takingthis one.

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 Post subject: Re: Extreme Exhaustion
PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 10:05 am 
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One last thing to try if you're sure that it's not iron or vitamin d (these are def the most likely suspects) is taking carni-nutrients. Jack Norris has run into a couple vegans over the years who have failed to thrive until they took carnosine for instance. Again, iron or vitamin d seems much (much) more likely, but taking carnosine, creatine, taurine and/or carnitine might be worth a shot. It does seem really unlikely that you would have trouble with these though. My understanding is that you'd notice something was up much sooner into a vegan diet if you had an inability to create your own carnitine.

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 Post subject: Re: Extreme Exhaustion
PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 10:20 am 
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Hmm, what about iodine? Right now there is a lot of emphasis on reducing salt intake, and it sounds like you're very health-conscious and avoid processed (salty!) foods. Many health-conscious people also use non-iodized salt when they do add it to food. Seafood is a great source of iodine. You did say, however, that your thyroid was checked. According to my friend Wikipedia, "iodine deficiency gives rise to hypothyroidism, symptoms of which are extreme fatigue, goiter, mental slowing, depression, weight gain, and low basal body temperatures."

Also, I know you take a multi and your iron levels are normal, but I did think of this recent article while reading your complaints:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-18294502 Might be worth a shot to add a separate iron supplement under the supervision of your doctor (don't want levels to get too high).

This sounds upsetting and extremely scary; I really hope you quickly get to the bottom of it.


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 Post subject: Re: Extreme Exhaustion
PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 10:24 am 
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You and I have a pretty similar history. I've been vegan for 6.5 years and just had a healthy baby last year. I had very low Vit D (despite taking a prenatal multi) and it was easily remedied with am Rx supplement. I never felt as poorly as you do though, and I hope you find out the source of your ailments soon. I totally hear you on wanting to be a strong healthy mom -motherhood definitely does take a lot of energy.

I don't know if you've done this, but maybe look at what the salmon provided (protein, oils) and try and add a vegan version. I know I often feel exhausted if I'm not getting enough protein.

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 Post subject: Re: Extreme Exhaustion
PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 11:04 am 
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I guess vitamin D is most easily absorbed through sunlight, and not everyone processes supplements in the same way, which is why D deficiency is so rampant in northern climes despite supplementation in dairy and other products. I take a vegan multi every day, but I guess living in Northern Europe, it wasn't enough.

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 Post subject: Re: Extreme Exhaustion
PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 12:03 pm 
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Are you a small person, by chance? I am thin by nature, and I begin to feel exhausted if I am not getting enough calories, and particularly if I'm not getting enough carbs and fats. Ironically, I often start to feel this way when I'm eating TOO healthily (i.e. when I'm eating so many veggies and proteins and the like and not getting the carbs or fats I'd normally get from "junkier" food), and I honestly usually feel better if I go out of my way to eat some more rich, starchy and fatty foods.

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 Post subject: Re: Extreme Exhaustion
PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 12:20 pm 
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What everyone else said is more likely but one of my coworkers (who is omni) has been feeling the exact same way lately and she and her naturopath think that it's a yeast overgrowth. Her doctor thinks it's her thyroid but since she's between thyroid treatments at the moment and they haven't been helping she's taking the month to completely cut all sugars (processed and natural) and white carbs (she's been having spelt and oats and things still) in order to "starve out the yeast." I'm not too versed on the whole yeast thing as it's never been an issue for me but if nothing else works cutting sugars for a while could be worth a try. I mean, it won't be harmful at least.


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 Post subject: Re: Extreme Exhaustion
PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 12:26 pm 
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Systemic yeast overgrowth does not exist. It's complete and utter quackery.

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 Post subject: Re: Extreme Exhaustion
PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 12:30 pm 
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I should say, it does not exist in the absence of an underlying immune system dysfunction.

http://www.quackwatch.com/01QuackeryRel ... ndida.html

This is a pretty good overview, in my opinion.

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 Post subject: Re: Extreme Exhaustion
PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 12:34 pm 
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Dawley wrote:
Also, any idea why I would have low levels if I eat a varied whole foods diet and use that vegan multivitamin as insurance? I always assumed that was enough to stay healthy. Thanks.


I think it's always good to remember that everyone's body is different and everyone's specific needs are different. The RDAs are guidelines but each of us are different.

Don't fret about eating the fish. It's more important that you find out what you are lacking so that you feel better!

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