Feeling dizzy

StrawberryField

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I started my vegan journey two months ago. I've been feeling great but this last week I've felt a little off. Im feeling a little lethargic and nauseous. I stood out of a chair once and felt light-headed and dizzy. I'm also a little irritated. All these signs point to anemia. I'm big on a lot of iron-rich foods especially pinto beans. I also eat oatmeal a lot, leafy green salads. I don't think I'm not eating enough iron but I have read that iron from plant based foods is harder for the body to absorb. Does anybody have any quick fixes that might get me out of this funk?
 

Lou

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Maybe the first step is to find out if you are really anemic or not. When was your last doctor visit? Were you anemic then? If they didn't mention it to you, most likely you weren't anemic.

If you are old enough to give blood - go do it. It's good to do anyway. and they give you a free iron test. You can even ask them what your score was. I regularly fail the digital one. But I can almost always pass the specific gravity one. That is where they take one drop of your blood and put it in a special solution. If it sinks - you pass. My blood sinks very slowly.

There is even a home iron test kit that they sell. Some are less than $25.

Your symptoms sound like anemia. but they also sound like a hundred other things. So if it's been a while since your last Doctor's visit you might want to schedule one. If you have a brain tumor it is best to catch those early.

The iron you get from animal-based food is called Heme Iron. Like Hemoglobin. The iron that you get from plant-based food is called non-heme iron. Non-heme iron is less absorbable than heme iron.
"Heme iron is typically absorbed at a rate of 7-35%. Non-heme iron is typically absorbed at a rate of 2-20%"
- http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=dailytip&dbid=347

The worst case scenario is that you might need twice the iron if you eat a plant-based diet.

As always, I suggest a few minutes with our old friend Cronometer. Just plug in a day's worth of food. Better yet, a few days.

As a vegan, you might want to get your iron numbers in the 200% range.

If that is not happening than you might want to get a multivitamin. You need to take something for B12 anyway so it might as well be a multi with iron. I used to take DEVA tiny tablets. They are pretty much the minimalist approach to supplements, and they are cheap. Like $2/mo.

I've been giving blood regularly for 40 years. And I am almost always borderline anemic. Even before I was any-kind-of vegetarian I would sometimes fail the iron test. I love dried fruit but rarely buy it because of the calories they contain. Just before a blood donation, I allow myself a bag of apricots. And I eat them in just a day or two. I haven't failed an iron test since. Now honestly I'm not sure it's the apricots. but I don't mind the indulgence so I don't look at it too closely. But my guess is that some people absorb iron better than others. I'm one of the others.

Oh. One other thing i learned (the hard way). although iron in large quantities is toxic, it's almost impossible to kill yourself with iron. Your body clears excess iron through your stools. If your stools become rock hard and black - it means your body is excreting iron. I found that multis with more than 12 mg of iron turn my stools black. But that is for me. you might have to run your own experiments.

This page has just about everything a vegan needs to know about iron
https://www.vrg.org/nutrition/iron.php

Oh, and sorry about the brain tumor joke.
 

Emma JC

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As you will hear from many of the posters here ... it is unlikely that you have anemia (at least due to going vegan) after only 2 months. It is more likely that you are not eating enough calories. Leafy green salads are so good for you however they are very low in calories. Cronometer, at least for a short while, is one way to check that your incoming calories match or excede your calorie use.

Emma JC
 
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Lou

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Emma JC is right. and I should have mentioned that first. It is way more likely that your symptoms are the result of not eating enough calories. Chronometer or any of the simple calorie counters can help you figure that out. A calorie deficit is the most likely issue, the easiest to check, and the easiest to fix.
 
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StrawberryField

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Wonderful suggestions and advice! Thank you. I guess I should've mentioned that I've started a rigorous exercise routine about two weeks ago. It's very possible my body just needs a break. What scared me a little was the one time I stood up and stretched out my arms (similar to when you wake up and yawn) and I got a dizzy spell. I haven't had something like that happen in a while. In any case, thank you for your input.
 
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StrawberryField

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Maybe the first step is to find out if you are really anemic or not. When was your last doctor visit? Were you anemic then? If they didn't mention it to you, most likely you weren't anemic.

If you are old enough to give blood - go do it. It's good to do anyway. and they give you a free iron test. You can even ask them what your score was. I regularly fail the digital one. But I can almost always pass the specific gravity one. That is where they take one drop of your blood and put it in a special solution. If it sinks - you pass. My blood sinks very slowly.

There is even a home iron test kit that they sell. Some are less than $25.

Your symptoms sound like anemia. but they also sound like a hundred other things. So if it's been a while since your last Doctor's visit you might want to schedule one. If you have a brain tumor it is best to catch those early.

The iron you get from animal-based food is called Heme Iron. Like Hemoglobin. The iron that you get from plant-based food is called non-heme iron. Non-heme iron is less absorbable than heme iron.
"Heme iron is typically absorbed at a rate of 7-35%. Non-heme iron is typically absorbed at a rate of 2-20%"
- http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=dailytip&dbid=347

The worst case scenario is that you might need twice the iron if you eat a plant-based diet.

As always, I suggest a few minutes with our old friend Cronometer. Just plug in a day's worth of food. Better yet, a few days.

As a vegan, you might want to get your iron numbers in the 200% range.

If that is not happening than you might want to get a multivitamin. You need to take something for B12 anyway so it might as well be a multi with iron. I used to take DEVA tiny tablets. They are pretty much the minimalist approach to supplements, and they are cheap. Like $2/mo.

I've been giving blood regularly for 40 years. And I am almost always borderline anemic. Even before I was any-kind-of vegetarian I would sometimes fail the iron test. I love dried fruit but rarely buy it because of the calories they contain. Just before a blood donation, I allow myself a bag of apricots. And I eat them in just a day or two. I haven't failed an iron test since. Now honestly I'm not sure it's the apricots. but I don't mind the indulgence so I don't look at it too closely. But my guess is that some people absorb iron better than others. I'm one of the others.

Oh. One other thing i learned (the hard way). although iron in large quantities is toxic, it's almost impossible to kill yourself with iron. Your body clears excess iron through your stools. If your stools become rock hard and black - it means your body is excreting iron. I found that multis with more than 12 mg of iron turn my stools black. But that is for me. you might have to run your own experiments.

This page has just about everything a vegan needs to know about iron
https://www.vrg.org/nutrition/iron.php

Oh, and sorry about the brain tumor joke.
Good suggestion on giving blood. I did it once about two years ago and I remember them mentioning my Iron was fine. Red Cross calls me all the time since that last visit so maybe I should just run on over there and do it again.
 

Emma JC

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Wonderful suggestions and advice! Thank you. I guess I should've mentioned that I've started a rigorous exercise routine about two weeks ago. It's very possible my body just needs a break. What scared me a little was the one time I stood up and stretched out my arms (similar to when you wake up and yawn) and I got a dizzy spell. I haven't had something like that happen in a while. In any case, thank you for your input.

A rigourous exercise routine means using up more calories so all the more reason to track it until your body adapts to the new reality.

Emma JC
 

Lou

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Come to think of it, I sometimes get lightheaded. Usually, a few hours after I've had a high carb breakfast, and then done some exercise. Food seems to help.
:cool:

Please ignore the attached file. I was trying to put in a smiley face when my hand slipped and now I can't get rid of it.
 

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LaughingDove

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Strawberry Field, first congrats on beginning your vegan journey. The suggestions offered here to help with your dizzy spells, etc. are a good source of information, if you need to follow up on things. But I would mention that if you recently began eating vegan, your body is is still going through a transition phase. For some people, this can last for some time. Your body is no doubt going through a period of detox, getting rid of all the toxic stuff that accumulates in the body when eating a meat diet. Since you are in your forties, this may go on for longer than for a younger person. Same thing with your new exercise program - if you are jumping in too fast, your body is maybe having a hard time catching up to these new changes as well. To help with your adjustment, it might be an idea to try and eat as closely to what you were eating before - but just substituting vegan options for the non-vegan ones, and then move gradually to your "ideal diet". Note that as you continue to purify your body you will find yourself becoming more sensitive to certain food and drink items. Some of the members here have mentioned this in other threads. I wish you all the best in your journey!
 
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StrawberryField

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Strawberry Field, first congrats on beginning your vegan journey. The suggestions offered here to help with your dizzy spells, etc. are a good source of information, if you need to follow up on things. But I would mention that if you recently began eating vegan, your body is is still going through a transition phase. For some people, this can last for some time. Your body is no doubt going through a period of detox, getting rid of all the toxic stuff that accumulates in the body when eating a meat diet. Since you are in your forties, this may go on for longer than for a younger person. Same thing with your new exercise program - if you are jumping in too fast, your body is maybe having a hard time catching up to these new changes as well. To help with your adjustment, it might be an idea to try and eat as closely to what you were eating before - but just substituting vegan options for the non-vegan ones, and then move gradually to your "ideal diet". Note that as you continue to purify your body you will find yourself becoming more sensitive to certain food and drink items. Some of the members here have mentioned this in other threads. I wish you all the best in your journey!
Thank you very much for your post. I am the type of person that wants something to change NOW, so I do forget that it's only been a couple months and I'm still going through a bit of a transition. I remember the first two or three weeks of the diet where I was feeling cruddy. I knew then that it was my body ridding itself of all the accumulated toxins and the feeling I'm feeling now is exactly the same. It's just been a good five weeks or so since it's happen. I am actually eating very similarly to what my diet was when I first started with the exception that I got rid of all the oil. Before, I wasn't as concerned with all the tortilla chips, and other processed oily food and now I have completely taken that out. I think that decision alone is the reason I've lost so much weight at a fairly rapid pace. Thanks again for the input
 
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TofuRobot

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Thank you very much for your post. I am the type of person that wants something to change NOW, so I do forget that it's only been a couple months and I'm still going through a bit of a transition. I remember the first two or three weeks of the diet where I was feeling cruddy. I knew then that it was my body ridding itself of all the accumulated toxins and the feeling I'm feeling now is exactly the same. It's just been a good five weeks or so since it's happen. I am actually eating very similarly to what my diet was when I first started with the exception that I got rid of all the oil. Before, I wasn't as concerned with all the tortilla chips, and other processed oily food and now I have completely taken that out. I think that decision alone is the reason I've lost so much weight at a fairly rapid pace. Thanks again for the input
That is exactly how my responds to the slightest bit of oil in my diet - I feel yucky and I gain weight - like really fast. There's definitely going to be an adjustment period when you eliminate oil. But you will feel SO much better after this stage - at least a couple of weeks, but personally, I'd say wait and see how you feel after 6-8 weeks. Also make sure you're drinking plenty of fluid (and mostly water or tea), as well as eating enough food, period. I know that I need to eat some protein (beans and lentils, specifically) or I'll start to feel lack of energy. If I am not "cheating" (making the mistake of eating the available junk vegan food that seems to be so in-my-face lately at work), I will literally eat at least a whole avocado and probably a cup of nuts every day (I have a steady supply of raw almonds, walnuts, and cashews), easily, and I never feel sluggish or seem to gain weight, and I feel great. It's only when I start to introduce oil - it just messes me up. I just don't like how it makes me feel.
 
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StrawberryField

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That is exactly how my responds to the slightest bit of oil in my diet - I feel yucky and I gain weight - like really fast. There's definitely going to be an adjustment period when you eliminate oil. But you will feel SO much better after this stage - at least a couple of weeks, but personally, I'd say wait and see how you feel after 6-8 weeks. Also make sure you're drinking plenty of fluid (and mostly water or tea), as well as eating enough food, period. I know that I need to eat some protein (beans and lentils, specifically) or I'll start to feel lack of energy. If I am not "cheating" (making the mistake of eating the available junk vegan food that seems to be so in-my-face lately at work), I will literally eat at least a whole avocado and probably a cup of nuts every day (I have a steady supply of raw almonds, walnuts, and cashews), easily, and I never feel sluggish or seem to gain weight, and I feel great. It's only when I start to introduce oil - it just messes me up. I just don't like how it makes me feel.
I hear ya. I was at a Mexican place not too long ago and I ordered rice and beans to go. When I got home I noticed they made a mistake and gave me refried beans instead of the pinto beans I had requested. I know refried beans are made with butter, oil, or animal lard but I ate them anyway in a moment of weakness. I was nauseous for the next 4 hours. It's funny how our bodies can acclimate to just about anything.
 

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Congratulations on your vegan diet. I agree with the others. I take an iron tablet since giving blood last summer and failing one iron test although another test showed I was ok but I was nearly not allowed to give blood so now I take an iron tablet and it has helped make me more active. I had no problem with low iron the next time I gave blood.
 
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Add dried fruits to your diet. They will give you more energy without spiking your bloodsugar and are rich in vitamins and minerals. Best to eat them alone or before a meal. Also avoid fake meat and other processed nonsense like tofu etc. Raw natural whole foods are key.
 
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StrawberryField

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Add dried fruits to your diet. They will give you more energy without spiking your bloodsugar and are rich in vitamins and minerals. Best to eat them alone or before a meal. Also avoid fake meat and other processed nonsense like tofu etc. Raw natural whole foods are key.
Thanks