Focus and concentration problems

Eroff1234

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Hi Everyone,

This is my second time trying to be vegan and I always seem to have to quit because I can’t seem to get my nutrition quiet right (For example, I try to use Chronometer and take multivitamins and still no good). This time I’m struggling with loss of focus and concentration and feel like I’m loosing brain cells and IQ points! It’s affecting my work and daily life. Also, frequently after meals, I’m getting extremely tired for about 30 minutes to and 1 hr - again, affecting my work. I’ve been vegan for about a month now and can’t seem to figure it out. I’m most concerned about my newly developed focus and concentration issues. Any advise?

Thanks!

Emily
 
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silva

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Vegan only says what you don't eat--no animal products. Lacking animal products will not cause those symptoms.
What is a usual days food for you? Have you begun eating foods that are new to you?
Lack of calories is common for many people when they go vegan, as well as not drinking enough water to go along with the usual higher fiber.
Your gut biome also changes, and there is a adjustment from a flora used to meat/dairy and the flora that goes along with digesting plant foods

While a month in is not enough to become deficient, you do need to be sure you get regular B12. You'll find processed foods are fortified, but I take a sublingual once a week to be sure -- 2000mcg

I highly recommend this book by a Registared Dietician. It addresses a wide variety of subjects as well as plant based nutrition:
 

David3

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Hi Everyone,

This is my second time trying to be vegan and I always seem to have to quit because I can’t seem to get my nutrition quiet right (For example, I try to use Chronometer and take multivitamins and still no good). This time I’m struggling with loss of focus and concentration and feel like I’m loosing brain cells and IQ points! It’s affecting my work and daily life. Also, frequently after meals, I’m getting extremely tired for about 30 minutes to and 1 hr - again, affecting my work. I’ve been vegan for about a month now and can’t seem to figure it out. I’m most concerned about my newly developed focus and concentration issues. Any advise?

Thanks!

Emily
.
You might find it useful to plan your vegan diet with the help of a local Registered Dietitian. In the Bradenton, Florida area, it looks like there are several RD's who specialize in plant-based diets: Find a Nutrition Expert - Search Results
 

Lou

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Hi Everyone,

This is my second time trying to be vegan and I always seem to have to quit because I can’t seem to get my nutrition quiet right
I had a lot of trouble with nutrition too. but it turned out I was overthinking it. My main issue is that there was TMI, and half of it was wrong. KISS works with nutrition too. and like I tell my friends - Nutrition is not rocket science.
(For example, I try to use Chronometer and take multivitamins and still no good).
Are you actually using Cronometer? I know it has a learning curve and many people get frustrated with how much time it takes in the beginning. plus using it is a habit the maybe you can't get started.

You said "multivitamins" like with an "s". are you taking more than one multi? or are you taking a multi and some other vitamins, too?

I would be glad to help you with either learning how to use Cronometer or interpreting the results. Also I would also like to know the answers to Silva's questions.

From my experience here at the VF, the most common issue for new vegans is not enough calories. Vegan food is not calorie dense so to get the same amount of calories you have to eat more food. Once you have enough calories (and eating a variety of healthy foods) everything else is almost automatic.


This time I’m struggling with loss of focus and concentration and feel like I’m loosing brain cells and IQ points!

I've heard that referred to as Vegan Brain Fog. I've never met anyone who had that. In fact, up until now I thought it was a myth.

If you google "vegan brain fog" you will end up looking at articles written by companies that are trying to sell you supplements. You might also find some articles or YouTube videos by ex-vegans who think they have some kind of nutritional deficiencies (but have never had a blood test). But they report that when going back to a non-vegan diet the brain fog goes away.

So one thing the supplement companies have in common in their anti-brain fog pills is B12 and EPA/DHA.
Both of those are non existent in the vegan diet so that does make some medical/scientific sense.
Also vegan doctors and vegan RDs all agree that us vegans need to take B12 and DHA supplements.
So its a good idea regardless.

For B12 you should take 2000 mcg of cyanocobalamin a week.
Or look at this for some other suggestions

The recommendation for EPA/DHA is 250 milligrams per day

You might also want to supplement Vitamin D. 50 mcg a day is good.

One last thing, consider getting some blood work done with your next check up. It's also a good idea regardless. If nothing else it gives you a baseline.
 
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silva

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So one thing the supplement companies have in common in their anti-brain fog pills is B12 and EPA/DHA.
Both of those are non existent in the vegan diet so that does make some medical/scientific sense.

Also vegan doctors and vegan RDs all agree that us vegans need to take B12 and DHA supplements.
So its a good idea regardless.

For B12 you should take 2000 mcg of cyanocobalamin a week.
Or look at this for some other suggestions

The recommendation for EPA/DHA is 250 milligrams per day

You might also want to supplement Vitamin D. 50 mcg a day is good.

One last thing, consider getting some blood work done with your next check up. It's also a good idea regardless. If nothing else it gives you a baseline.
I dislike hearing that, because EPA/DHA are not found in land or air animals, but only in sea veg and the things that eat them. I've never liked food from the sea, but I grew up omnivore.
Many people can make the conversion from the proper ratios of omega 3s 6s and 9's, known as Essential Fatty Acids. this conversion is reduced with age and some people (I think myself) don't do a good job.
I found algae DHA capsules years ago and have proven to myself over and over that they really do help my ADD, my general focus and attention.
I've switched to so many different ones, because of price changes, but now they seem to have really gone down in price, and more options are available.
Dr Greger suggests these, and says the main sources of algae are grown in one area so brands don't matter

I do find taking them on an empty stomach reduces the sea flavored burps
 
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silva

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Oh, the vitamin D---I do suggest getting it tested with bloodwork, it is not always routine to check that, and many insurances don't cover the cost (US)
I was so surprised how low i was years ago, taking D2 and getting sun. I was put on high doses of D3 (there are vegan D3) and so many pains resolved.
D3 isn't really found in many animal foods , and is added to things like dairy milk
Proper dosage is important
 

Lou

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I never worried about D. Living in California, going outside everyday, and drinking lots of fortified soy milk, plus my multi had some too.
but I was tested this year and it was low. My doctor gave me a supplement and we tested again - and now I'm fine. but I'll keep taking the supplements.
 
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silva

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what do you dislike?
You said this---
"So one thing the supplement companies have in common in their anti-brain fog pills is B12 and EPA/DHA.
Both of those are non existent in the vegan diet so that does make some medical/scientific sense.
Also vegan doctors and vegan RDs all agree that us vegans need to take B12 and DHA supplements."

Seafood is not necessarily part of an omnivores diet, so it only applies to those who ate seafood before going vegan, not omnivores in general.
I was never a seafood eater. DHA is only found in seafood
 
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Lou

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Seafood is not necessarily part of an omnivores diet,
Well ok. seems like its more of a personal thing. but ok.

also remember DHA is not just in fish. Some people eat Seaweed, nori, spirulina, and chlorella for health purposes.

and there is the ALA conversion to DHA and EPA. many people rely on that, too

But back to my point, if brain fog exists and those supplement companies are right, then a DHA supplement might work.
 

silva

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Well ok. seems like its more of a personal thing. but ok.

also remember DHA is not just in fish. Some people eat Seaweed, nori, spirulina, and chlorella for health purposes.

and there is the ALA conversion to DHA and EPA. many people rely on that, too

But back to my point, if brain fog exists and those supplement companies are right, then a DHA supplement might work.
Why I said "seafood", algae is seafood. :shrug:
...and discussed the ALA conversion.
The link to nutritionfacts is recommending it as a supplement
I dislike hearing that, because EPA/DHA are not found in land or air animals, but only in sea veg and the things that eat them. I've never liked food from the sea, but I grew up omnivore.
Many people can make the conversion from the proper ratios of omega 3s 6s and 9's, known as Essential Fatty Acids. this conversion is reduced with age and some people (I think myself) don't do a good job.
I found algae DHA capsules years ago and have proven to myself over and over that they really do help my ADD, my general focus and attention.
I've switched to so many different ones, because of price changes, but now they seem to have really gone down in price, and more options are available.
Dr Greger suggests these, and says the main sources of algae are grown in one area so brands don't matter
 
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Eroff1234

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Hi Everyone,

Thanks for replying! I tend to eat 3 meals and a snack a day - cold brew coffee and a small protein shake (powder only) for breakfast; some sort of noodle, rice or potatoes based lunch with various veg and greens, vegan gravy or soy sauce, and nutritional yeast and brags amino acids; popcorn, wasabi peas and pumpkin seeds for snack; and the same type of meal as lunch for dinner. I also usually try to throw tofu in my meals too. I take 1 mulitivitamin ‘almost’ everyday, but if I don’t I take a calcium/mangesium/D/zinc one. I also try to take a big B complex vitamins (B6, B12, Folate) and a omega 3 pill every other day as well. I also drink several drinks that are fortifies with B 12 (e.g., vitamin water). I’m pretty health conscious and think about my nutrition, so I don’t know why getting this right is so hard! I talked to some of my friends who have been vegan before and they said the never have gotten the type of brain fog I’m describing. My Dr also suspects I have ulcerative colitis but I need a second scan to confirm. Maybe this is impacting? Last time, when I had to quit bc I was having nerve type problems, I felt better if I ate cheese even as little as 3 times a week. And this time I’m doing everything I can to fix it nutritionally, but I’m still feeling my brain progressively shut down (e.g., serious concentration problems, word finding issues, etc). Maybe it’s an absorption thing? I don’t know….
 

silva

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Hi Everyone,

Thanks for replying! I tend to eat 3 meals and a snack a day - cold brew coffee and a small protein shake (powder only) for breakfast; some sort of noodle, rice or potatoes based lunch with various veg and greens, vegan gravy or soy sauce, and nutritional yeast and brags amino acids; popcorn, wasabi peas and pumpkin seeds for snack; and the same type of meal as lunch for dinner. I also usually try to throw tofu in my meals too. I take 1 mulitivitamin ‘almost’ everyday, but if I don’t I take a calcium/mangesium/D/zinc one. I also try to take a big B complex vitamins (B6, B12, Folate) and a omega 3 pill every other day as well. I also drink several drinks that are fortifies with B 12 (e.g., vitamin water). I’m pretty health conscious and think about my nutrition, so I don’t know why getting this right is so hard! I talked to some of my friends who have been vegan before and they said the never have gotten the type of brain fog I’m describing. My Dr also suspects I have ulcerative colitis but I need a second scan to confirm. Maybe this is impacting? Last time, when I had to quit bc I was having nerve type problems, I felt better if I ate cheese even as little as 3 times a week. And this time I’m doing everything I can to fix it nutritionally, but I’m still feeling my brain progressively shut down (e.g., serious concentration problems, word finding issues, etc). Maybe it’s an absorption thing? I don’t know….
Are these all foods you have when you're NOT eating plant based? Like if you stuck with all these foods but included some animal products?
What about adding some additional healthy fats like avocado, seeds and nuts?

What is the protein shake? I'd suggest switching that out for a more whole foods breakfast of whole cooked grains, flaxseeds and fruit. Or a smoothie with oats, flaxseeds and fruits.

There have been a lot of problems with some vegan shakes, specifically one that was specifically targeted to vegans, can't think of the name, some were sensitive to an ingredient.

There is also the genetic thing MFTHR some have where they can't metabolize the cyanocobalin B12 , or the synthesized folic acid (as opposed to the naturally occurring folate from plants). I don't know anything beyond this- just something to consider
 

Lou

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Hi Everyone,

Thanks for replying!

Thank you for replying, too. The information you gave about your food and supplements was great.
There could be some fine tuning involved but nothing problematic jumped out at me.
I will encourage you again to give chronometer a try - even for one day. There might be a few things to fine tune.

Oh, here is a question that I should have asked right away. How is your weight. has it been steady. If you have been slowly losing weight it could mean you aren't getting enough food.
some of my friends who have been vegan before and they said the never have gotten the type of brain fog I’m describing.

yah, I agree. Like I said earlier I thought it was a myth. But the term "brain fog" in conjunction with "vegan" pops up often enough that there are even supplements targeted to it, and then there is you. So now I think it could very be real.

My Dr also suspects I have ulcerative colitis but I need a second scan to confirm. Maybe this is impacting?

Oh, man. You probably should have led with this. Whether you actually have UC or some other intestinal problem, your brain fog could very well be a symptom of That. Have you mentioned the brain fog to your doctor. It could be important.

UC is a serious and scary condition. My sister had it when she was younger than you. She ended up having surgery. That was 30 years ago and she is fine. She has even had 2 kids and has a very active lifestyle.

There are UC support groups and you probably should join one. Not a Facebook one but one organized by your health care provider.

Maybe it’s an absorption thing? I don’t know….

Even if you don't have UC (fingers crossed), an absorption issue could very well be it. Any kind of inflammation of the small intestine can cause absorption issues.

There are a slew of vitamins that have some connection to proper brain function. B12 is one of them. (actually I think all the Bs are important for brain function.

B12 is one of the things vegans worry about because its not in vegan food. But there is another issue with B12 that should be brought up here. And that it comes with absorption issues right out of the gate. There is only one site for B12 absorption and its in the small intestine. And if your GI issue is in or near there....But you can sort of bypass that by taking a sublingual B12.

There are even sublingual multis.

One more thing, Choline. Choline is a vitamin necessary for a lot of things but it does play an important role in Brain and Nervous system functions. The best sources of it are animal based products. Cronometer only tracks choline if you turn it on. Thats because most foods don't list choline in their nutrition labels. And its not found in large quantities in a multi either.

However most vegans don't worry about it because if you eat a lot of plant based foods you end up getting enough choline (sort of like protein).

the more I think about this the more I'm convinced its not your diet but your intestinal issue. Talk to your doctor.
 

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While those are things to consider, the idea that they only feel this way when on a plant based diet, I wouldn't put those ideas first--one month will not cause deficiencies. If they were already low in a nutrient, going back wouldn't help, and I doubt would be a difference if it were an intestinal problem

Really, go through what you may be consuming as a vegan that you normally wouldn't, or wouldn't have as much of, when eating your regular diet.

Sometimes people make changes and blame the diet, when it's a particular thing they add. I've responded to posts about itchy, oily hair that happened when going vegan--turned out she switched to an organic vegan shampoo that caused me the same problem!
Some supplements can cause problems--I learned the benefits of the spice nigella sativa, so I put some in capsules--caused me to feel dizzy and weird. Hibicus tea-lowered my blood pressure to where I felt faint. If I had these feelings when first eating vegan I may well have blamed the diet. Another one--my co worker would go plant based in spring to help here lose weight, and complain how tired and headachy she got. One, she was eating fewer calories, and two, she'd always had spring allergies!

You are eating enough calories right?
 

LoreD

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Hi Everyone,

This is my second time trying to be vegan and I always seem to have to quit because I can’t seem to get my nutrition quiet right (For example, I try to use Chronometer and take multivitamins and still no good). This time I’m struggling with loss of focus and concentration and feel like I’m loosing brain cells and IQ points! It’s affecting my work and daily life. Also, frequently after meals, I’m getting extremely tired for about 30 minutes to and 1 hr - again, affecting my work. I’ve been vegan for about a month now and can’t seem to figure it out. I’m most concerned about my newly developed focus and concentration issues. Any advise?

Thanks!

Emily


I have had some success with the vegan green and protein shake powders.

It will help until you get more knowledge about the vegan diet. When I am feeling tired, I drink one of the shakes and get a big burst of energy.

This company is my favorite:

You can order these on Amazon, too.



 
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LoreD

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Hi Everyone,

This is my second time trying to be vegan and I always seem to have to quit because I can’t seem to get my nutrition quiet right (For example, I try to use Chronometer and take multivitamins and still no good). This time I’m struggling with loss of focus and concentration and feel like I’m loosing brain cells and IQ points! It’s affecting my work and daily life. Also, frequently after meals, I’m getting extremely tired for about 30 minutes to and 1 hr - again, affecting my work. I’ve been vegan for about a month now and can’t seem to figure it out. I’m most concerned about my newly developed focus and concentration issues. Any advise?

Thanks!

Emily


According to some of the websites, fiber is a real issue with UC. With your condition you may want to transition toward a vegan diet, rather than start 100%. Then you would be able to see which foods are causing problems.

Apparently, whole nuts and seeds are a big issue for people with UC because of the fiber, so maybe cut back on the pumpkin seeds.

You might want to check the ingredients on the protein powder shake:

. If you can use a plant-based protein powder (pea and hemp are usually easy to digest), then those may also be easier than forms like whey, sprouted grains or sprouted bean-based protein powders.


A plant-based diet can be a struggle for those with UC because often a low residue diet is highly recommended. Since most plant-based foods are rich in fiber, it can be a challenge to find a happy level of fiber that keeps you healthy without causing a flare. Some doable tips are to peel all your fruits and vegetables, cook veggies before eating them, eat more soup, and consume lower fiber grains like wild rice, rolled oats and quinoa flakes in place of wheat, bran cereals, steel cut oats and whole quinoa seeds. Citrus fruits, and starchy, soft foods like sweet potatoes and bananas are also very easy to digest and healing to the gut since they lower inflammation. You can also try pureed sources of fats (like coconut butter, almond butter or just plain avocados) in place of nuts and seeds that your body has to work harder to break down since they are richer in fiber per serving. Eating smaller meals throughout the day in place of large ones can also help prevent too much strain on your system at once.
 
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Lou

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According to some of the websites, fiber is a real issue with UC.
Yes. but I don't think high fiber causes brain fog. Maybe the opposite.

Another thought that I just had, not sure if I are anyone else mentioned it, is a food sensitivity.
Perhaps the OP is eating a new food that she is sensitive to. although food sensitivities usually show up as gut issues not brain issues, it can work that way too.

figuring out a food sensitivity issue can be very difficult, time consuming and tricky by yourself. Again its best to ask your doctor to test you.

Come to think of it, a food sensitivity can also cause IBD.
 

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reading the OPs posts it sure sounds like they're consuming things while staying plant based than they would eating meat dairy or eggs
why not try and simplify your diet--making sure to get enough calories, from all the major catagories of fats, protein and whole carbs
Don't have foods you wouldn't eat if you weren't trying to be vegan.
Go without the protein shake for a time

I wouldn't go to any conclusions till you're certain it's not a food or beverage that's causing you this problem, If it were UC you'd be having problems regardless
It was Vega that had something people were really sensitive to.

You aren't trying to be to low fat are you?
 

silva

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Yes. but I don't think high fiber causes brain fog. Maybe the opposite.

Another thought that I just had, not sure if I are anyone else mentioned it, is a food sensitivity.
Perhaps the OP is eating a new food that she is sensitive to. although food sensitivities usually show up as gut issues not brain issues, it can work that way too.

figuring out a food sensitivity issue can be very difficult, time consuming and tricky by yourself. Again its best to ask your doctor to test you.

Come to think of it, a food sensitivity can also cause IBD.
Uh, yeah. :rolleyes: Why I keep saying to not eat foods they wouldn't eat if not being vegan.
Sometimes those with the biggest nutrition concerns that try so many things can make it harder on themselves.
 
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