What are the Health risks of being Vegan? - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 01-04-2014, 10:47 AM
 
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Hi I just started being a vegan, however my family are all against the idea because I have my exams coming up and they are worried that I may become too tired and lazy, and fail my exams. They are mainly worried about the sudden change of diet, I was wondering what are the health implications of being a Vegan? Please Help. 

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#2 Old 01-04-2014, 11:17 AM
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Hi and welcome :-)

Were you eating an omnivorous diet previously?  If so, it must have come as quite a shock to your family so I can understand they are worried.

 

What research have you done about diet, nutrition, recipes etc. prior to transitioning to vegan?  

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#3 Old 01-04-2014, 11:24 AM
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Vegan doesn't specify a particular diet, instead just a group of foods that aren't consumed, as such the risks of a vegan diet are going to depend on the particularly diet. If you've just removed the meat, dairy, etc from your diet and have made few other changes you're likely to be deficient in a number of nutrients relatively soon. You're going to have to invest some time into making sure your diet is well-balanced, etc.

The switch shouldn't be a big issue, there may be some digestive discomfort as your fiber intake increases but it won't last long and it won't effect your mental abilities.
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#4 Old 01-04-2014, 01:11 PM
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Would you like a list of vegans who somehow managed to graduate and notably succeed in various dynamic career paths?


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#5 Old 01-04-2014, 06:37 PM
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Originally Posted by wertthevegan View Post

Hi I just started being a vegan, however my family are all against the idea because I have my exams coming up and they are worried that I may become too tired and lazy, and fail my exams. They are mainly worried about the sudden change of diet, I was wondering what are the health implications of being a Vegan? Please Help. 


I almost 45 years old, have been vegan for several years and vegetarian before that for many years. I hike almost everyday for 3 or 4 hrs. If you eat a proper vegan diet you will have plenty of energy and your brain will not turn to mush.
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#6 Old 01-04-2014, 06:58 PM
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Show your parents this link, vegan diets have been approved for all ages by the American Dietetic Association: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19562864
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It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.

And if they need more convincing here is a collection of healthy people who have been vegan since birth: http://thevegantruth.blogspot.ca/2012/12/vegans-since-birth.html

Hope that helps and good luck on your vegan journey. grin.gif

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#7 Old 01-05-2014, 05:21 AM
 
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Hi 

Yes I was on an omnivorous diet before.

I have been doing this for a week, and from the many websites that I looked at they said I will be deficient in Vitamin B12 and Calcium.

So I started drinking Hazelnut milk that had both calcium and B12. I have a cousin who is a GP and she herself was advising me not to do this right now and wait till my studies have finished.

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#8 Old 01-05-2014, 05:39 AM
 
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Did you not feel more tired and less motivated to do work or is that just based on the individual themselves?

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#9 Old 01-05-2014, 05:55 AM
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Did you not feel more tired and less motivated to do work or is that just based on the individual themselves?

 

I was actually the opposite and had more energy after changing to a vegan diet (after 4 months of being vegetarian).

 

As long as you have a balanced diet and eat enough calories then you shouldn't feel any negative impact on your health.

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#10 Old 01-05-2014, 09:56 AM
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If your sister is worried, as a GP, then there are some good examples of people who are vegan in this booklet.  One of them is a doctor (vegan since 2002) and a number of them are students.  I've messaged you some other info too.  This organisation is based in Australia but it looks like a good resource.

 

http://www.alv.org.au/vegan-easy-challenge-welcome-pack/Vegan-Booklet.pdf

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#11 Old 01-05-2014, 12:06 PM
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Hi 

Yes I was on an omnivorous diet before.

I have been doing this for a week, and from the many websites that I looked at they said I will be deficient in Vitamin B12 and Calcium.

So I started drinking Hazelnut milk that had both calcium and B12. I have a cousin who is a GP and she herself was advising me not to do this right now and wait till my studies have finished.

Is your weight in the normal range? Physicians tend to worry more about a vegan diet for their thinner patients.
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#12 Old 01-06-2014, 03:02 PM
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^^^ Good point! I hadn't thought of that.

 

Calcium may or may not be a problem, but you'll definitely have to think about vitamin B-12. Calcium is found in quite a few vegetables- mostly dark-green leafy ones; you'll have to follow your typical diet for a while and figure out if you're getting enough calcium. For vitamin D, you can either take a supplement or get it from sunlight- calcium can be difficult to absorb and use without enough vitamin D, and D is important for other bodily processes too.

 

You can either take a B12-only supplement, or make sure your Hazelnut milk, etc are fortified with enough for your needs. However, certain sea vegetables, which were thought to have B-12 naturally, DO NOT have the vitamin- so please don't rely on them for B-12. With B-12, too much is probably better than not enough- it's evidently not toxic, and by the time clinical symptoms of B-12 deficiency show up, the injury to your body may be permanent. My B-12 tablets have a lot though, so I usually take just a quarter-tablet each day. I often let some of it sit under my tongue to absorb some that way too- but I don't know... maybe only certain formulations of B-12 are absorbed this way.

 

It's funny though, how people sometimes worry about how healthy a vegan or vegetarian diet is, when a more "normal" diet may be no better if it's too high in refined carbs or the wrong kind of fats.


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#13 Old 01-07-2014, 03:06 AM
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It's funny though, how people sometimes worry about how healthy a vegan or vegetarian diet is, when a more "normal" diet may be no better if it's too high in refined carbs or the wrong kind of fats.

My husband, who is an omnivore, has a terrible diet and eats loads of junk and guzzles Mountain Dew by the gallon, though more and more he is eating my vegan meals to give him credit.  We are like night and day as far as diet.  I eat at least two cups of leafy greens daily, a cup of beans, whole grains etc.  I rarely eat out, keep processed food to a minimum etc and probably obsess too much about health.  I have spent countless hours in hospitals and clinics with him because of all his health problems and crises over the last two years and not once have any of his doctors asked how his diet is other than appetite.  Only once a few years ago was he told to cut down on his dairy consumption because of high cholesterol.  The focus of treating his rheumatoid arthritis has been hard core steroids (not dietary changes in the least) which started a snowball effect of other health problems.  When I first went vegan however, I was warned that I would be sick and all kinds of terrible things would happen.  I went vegan just before returning to college, and have juggled college and work for the last three years now (almost done thank God!).  I also leaflet and do other forms of animal activism in my spare time.  My energy is improved and I work out six days a week before my daily grind.  During breaks I go on canoe trips, snow shoe hikes, mountain bike adventures etc.  I still get the common cold and so on like everyone else, but it lasts a very short time.  I have had no issues with concentration or energy other than your typical pulling an all nighter and stressing about school stuff. I was at the top of my class in Anatomy and Physiology and Aced that course and I have made the deans list every semester so far.  Did I mention I am 41 years old?  I still have the health issues I had before (long standing thyroid disorder and osteoporosis acquired as an omnivore  partly from losing my ovaries at a young age) but they are no worse.  In fact my thyroid med dose was lowered last year as my body has been making more of it's own thyroid and I haven't needed as much. I do supplement with B12 a few times a week and drink fortified plant milk (one of my few processed foods), and I take a vegan D supplement for 1/2 the year.  My levels test much higher in the summer due to so many outdoor activities and riding my bike everywhere so I don't need to supplement as much then.  I take a calcium supplement due to my osteoporosis (along with other forms of treatment) and a DHA supplement for security sake, though I make an effort to take in plant based ALA omega 3s daily such as flaxseed, walnuts, etc.  Admittedly that doesn't always happen, hence the DHA.  Aside from the B12, my supplements haven't changed a whole lot from the supplements I took as an omnivore (except they are vegan versions).  I used to take fish oil as an omnivore or make an effort to eat sardines, salmon etc.  As a vegan my total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, triglycerides, and fasting glucose all improved (had free screening through work in 2012 1.5 years into being vegan) although they were healthy before.  As a vegan my D levels have been healthy in summer and very slightly low in winter.  B12 was normal when I was two years vegan, and iron/hemoglobin was smack in the middle of normal at two years vegan also (though I do not menstruate because I have no ovaries so my iron needs are not as much as someone who does).  I'm thankful that my own doctor supports my veganism and my own Mom and sister have become vegetarian and sister is almost vegan now after seeing the success I have had.  I get a lot of crap from others still though but there is still a lot of misconception about veganism so that is no surprise.  

If you follow the vegan food pyramid and maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle and supplement with B12 there shouldn't be any major concerns.  Just keep the processed refined foods to a minimum and be sure to eat enough.  EVERYONE should be more mindful of what they eat.  


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#14 Old 01-07-2014, 06:40 AM
 
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The same as any 'diet' if it isn't balanced you will face problems be it now or at a later date.
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#15 Old 01-07-2014, 08:02 PM
 
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...With B-12, too much is probably better than not enough- it's evidently not toxic, and by the time clinical symptoms of B-12 deficiency show up, the injury to your body may be permanent. My B-12 tablets have a lot though, so I usually take just a quarter-tablet each day. I often let some of it sit under my tongue to absorb some that way too- but I don't know... maybe only certain formulations of B-12 are absorbed this way...

 

B12 is water soluble so generally not a huge concern for toxicity as it can be excreted through urine. If you do have a deficiency it's probably best to discuss with your doctor how much you should be taking as a supplement.

 

There are different formulations of tablets, the regular tablet which is meant to be swallowed and absorbed through the digestive tract, and the other is sublingual which is meant to be placed under the tongue and dissolved. So it is important to really look at the supplements (no matter what OTC supplement it may be) and directions for taking them. I found my Hubby swallowing sublingual tablets he had mistakenly bought and had to explain to him how to take them properly. It happens.

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#16 Old 01-08-2014, 03:32 PM
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There are different formulations of tablets, the regular tablet which is meant to be swallowed and absorbed through the digestive tract, and the other is sublingual which is meant to be placed under the tongue and dissolved. So it is important to really look at the supplements (no matter what OTC supplement it may be) and directions for taking them. I found my Hubby swallowing sublingual tablets he had mistakenly bought and had to explain to him how to take them properly. It happens.

Interesting. The ones I have at the moment don't say "sublingual", but since I eventually swallow them, I suppose I'm getting what I can from them. Thanks!


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#17 Old 01-10-2014, 04:49 AM
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Interesting. The ones I have at the moment don't say "sublingual", but since I eventually swallow them, I suppose I'm getting what I can from them. Thanks!

From what I've read, the sublingual ones are more effective for some people. Something to do with incomplete digestion once the regular pills are swallowed. I use sublinguals and am happy with that choice.

Ken
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#18 Old 01-10-2014, 05:52 AM
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It's funny though, how people sometimes worry about how healthy a vegan or vegetarian diet is, when a more "normal" diet may be no better if it's too high in refined carbs or the wrong kind of fats.

 

I think both diets, vegan and omnivorous, can be bad for health if not well planned.

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#19 Old 01-10-2014, 08:09 AM
 
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You can see many health benefits or die from a heart attack, cancer, diabetes etc. on a vegan diet.   There is a massive range of vegan food.   French fries, cookies, donuts, ice cream, and processed foods loaded with trans-fats, can all be vegan and be extremely unhealthy.  

If you eat a whole-foods, mostly raw vegan diet, and focus on highly nutrient dense foods (foods with a lot of nutrients and not a lot of calories), you will see amazing health benefits.  

No matter what kind of diet you are one, you should be taking B12 unless you get your blood tested and know you have no absorption problems.   Also, a source of iodine is important.  Kelp is a great natural source of iodine, but now we have to worry about radioactive and mercury laden kelp.  Might be better to just take iodine supplements.  

I have extremely low energy and could barely get out of bed and had trouble keeping jobs when I was younger.  The ONLY thing that has ever help me was eating a mostly raw, whole-foods, plant-based diet.  I lost a ton of weight and my energy went up substantially, although it is still far from normal energy levels.  

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#20 Old 01-11-2014, 04:42 AM
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Kelp is a great natural source of iodine, but now we have to worry about radioactive and mercury laden kelp.  Might be better to just take iodine supplements.

Fukushima? Have you been following where that stands?

I eat quite a bit of Wakeme, Nori, chlorella & spirulina. The first three are Japanese. The last is Hawaiian. It been something I've been concerned about but I haven't really kept up with what the actual risks are. Really sad that foods you traditionally think of as being protective for radiation could now be radioactive themselves.

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#21 Old 01-11-2014, 07:13 AM
 
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Fukushima? Have you been following where that stands?

I eat quite a bit of Wakeme, Nori, chlorella & spirulina. The first three are Japanese. The last is Hawaiian. It been something I've been concerned about but I haven't really kept up with what the actual risks are. Really sad that foods you traditionally think of as being protective for radiation could now be radioactive themselves.

Ken

Really, I have no idea.  On one end you have the governments saying everything is fine, and on the other, you have the profiteers saying the world is doomed.   We are probably closer to the doomed end of the spectrum. 

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#22 Old 01-11-2014, 07:18 AM
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Really, I have no idea.  On one end you have the governments saying everything is fine, and on the other, you have the profiteers saying the world is doomed.   We are probably closer to the doomed end of the spectrum. 

Yeah, probably so. I'd love to get some factual data, but getting through the hype & cover up is no easy matter.

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