Debilitating Brain Fog. Any Help? - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 02-24-2016, 10:46 AM
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Debilitating Brain Fog. Any Help?

I've been having constant brain fog ever since I switched my diet in July 2015. Even after supplementing (multivitamin, calcium with vitamin D3, flaxseed oil, DHA & EPA from algae, B12) and eating as much as I can abundantly in my college cafeteria I still have it. I recently grabbed my blood test which yielded normal stats and picked up some coconut oil which I use 3 spoonfuls of every day. I even contemplated eating meat and dairy again to see if it's a potential fix but I really don't want to go that route because that would break me emotionally. I'm really desperate for answers and am borderline depressed when every day I'm just a human with a dead brain carrying on about my day unproductively. I am a normally functioning human being with no bodily defects except the fog, I exercise regularly, sleep 6-8 hours, don't mess with unhealthier foods, meditate occasionally, and try to stay persistent with my efforts. So any advice would be appreciated.
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#2 Old 02-24-2016, 10:53 AM
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Why do you think the diet is the cause of the fog?

You've mentioned depression; maybe you're already depressed. Have you thought about contacting a counselor to talk with?
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#3 Old 02-24-2016, 10:59 AM
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Well it sounds like you're getting B12 and healthy fats. Are you really getting enough sleep with 6-8 hours? Maybe some days you need a nap. Also stress from college could make you shut down, maybe you need more down time?

Try to stay away from alcohol, even if you're a moderate drinker of only wine or beer, try to limit it to once a week, once a month is even better.

Um...are you getting enough calories? What are you eating in the caf? I'm sure they have salads, veggies and breakfast items like oats, cereal or bagels...are you eating tofu, nuts, hearty bean dishes, quinoa? Also are you getting enough iron through sources like peanut butter, beans, soy milk, and kale or broccoli?
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#4 Old 02-24-2016, 11:08 AM
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I'm not sure if it's because of nutrition or a mental issue

I forgot to mention for almost the whole summer leading up to my dietary change, I was mostly isolated in my room and hardly did anything mentally stimulating but I don't see why it won't go away at this point since I try to stay positive and social. If my fog was developed from being isolated, maybe I need medication? I don't know...

And I truly get 6-8 hours of sleep. I nap too often because of the stress in my head, and college stresses me out regardless if I do or don't have the fog. I don't drink alcohol. Yes I consume enough calories. And I mostly have lots of soy milk, rice, kidney beans, any cooked veggies and other vegan dishes they serve that day which I try to eat as much as I can. And I also eat peanuts or almonds outside the cafeteria.
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#5 Old 02-24-2016, 11:11 AM
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I've been having constant brain fog ever since I switched my diet in July 2015. Even after supplementing (multivitamin, calcium with vitamin D3, flaxseed oil, DHA & EPA from algae, B12) and eating as much as I can abundantly in my college cafeteria I still have it. I recently grabbed my blood test which yielded normal stats and picked up some coconut oil which I use 3 spoonfuls of every day. I even contemplated eating meat and dairy again to see if it's a potential fix but I really don't want to go that route because that would break me emotionally. I'm really desperate for answers and am borderline depressed when every day I'm just a human with a dead brain carrying on about my day unproductively. I am a normally functioning human being with no bodily defects except the fog, I exercise regularly, sleep 6-8 hours, don't mess with unhealthier foods, meditate occasionally, and try to stay persistent with my efforts. So any advice would be appreciated.

Hi JVWC,

In a previous post, you stated that you were at least 30 pounds underweight: https://www.veggieboards.com/forum/21...al-advice.html .

I suspect that you are not getting enough calories.

For your brain fog, the first thing you should suspect is lack of calories. Your brain only weighs about 3 pounds, yet it consumes 20% of all your calories: http://www.scientificamerican.com/ar...hard-calories/

Do this:

1. Use this calculator to determine your daily calorie needs: https://www.healthstatus.com/perl/calculator.cgi

2. Remember this calorie rule-of-thumb:

One cup of boiled legumes is about 230 calories
One cup of boiled grains is about 190 calories
One cup of fresh fruit is 40-100 calories
One cup of non-starchy vegetables is 5-40 calories
One cup of nuts or seeds is 700-1000 calories

Knowing this, you can make sure that you're getting enough calories, each and every day.


Remember, healthy veg diets are based on legumes and grains - these are the protein and calorie foundations of our diet.

If you have trouble getting enough calories, have more nuts, seeds, and/or nut butters.

If you continue to have problems, please immediately see a Registered Dietitian, and a physician. You should be able to see one for free, through your university's student health center.


Here is a well-written Vegetarian (actually vegan) Guide. If you look on page 7, it nicely summarizes vegan nutrition: https://www.healthstatus.com/perl/calculator.cgi

_________

Specific recommendations for a healthy diet include: eating more fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts and grains; cutting down on salt, sugar and fats. It is also advisable to choose unsaturated fats, instead of saturated fats and towards the elimination of trans-fatty acids."
- United Nations' World Health Organization
http://www.who.int/topics/diet/en/

Last edited by David3; 02-24-2016 at 11:16 AM.
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#6 Old 02-24-2016, 11:15 AM
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Based on your last post, I'm going to reiterate my comment about seeking out a counselor or other professional help. After discussions with them, they can help you with a path forward--whether that includes regular counseling or medication.

Counseling should not be looked down upon; it is there to help. You should not feel ashamed to go.

Outside of that, is it possible to start a new hobby? I started to take up photography as a serious hobby a few years ago after having a life-long interest in it. What are your interests? See if you can join groups or clubs based on those interests.
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#7 Old 02-24-2016, 11:27 AM
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I forgot to mention for almost the whole summer leading up to my dietary change, I was mostly isolated in my room and hardly did anything mentally stimulating but I don't see why it won't go away at this point since I try to stay positive and social. If my fog was developed from being isolated, maybe I need medication? I don't know...

And I truly get 6-8 hours of sleep. I nap too often because of the stress in my head, and college stresses me out regardless if I do or don't have the fog. I don't drink alcohol. Yes I consume enough calories. And I mostly have lots of soy milk, rice, kidney beans, any cooked veggies and other vegan dishes they serve that day which I try to eat as much as I can. And I also eat peanuts or almonds outside the cafeteria.

Hmm could be psychological. I would think in the summer even if you were not "social" you might swim, boat, hike, camp or take a vacation. Even if you're stressed try to not only unwind with screens. I agree with the person who said that you might need a new hobby. Nothing that will add to your mental stress, something that you'll look forward to that is relaxing. Building with your hands? Making art? Outdoor activities? Volunteering with animals or children? Joining a faith group of your choice?

Also take David's advice about calories - you might need even more calories if you are under stress.
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#8 Old 02-24-2016, 11:27 AM
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David3,

Sorry for that misinformation, I thought I was underweight until I checked my Body Mass Index which is about 20.4 being 5'7" tall and 130 pounds. Thanks for the information! I'll take that into consideration.

TailFin,

I think I will seek a counselor and see where that takes me. I do partake in hobbies like exercise and playing guitar but it's really challenging when I can't work at my best with the brain fog, but thanks for the advice!

Thalassa4,

Yeah I've thought it would be psychological too but as you said in your agreement with TailFin, I do participate in those hobbies mentioned. Again, it's frustrating when I'm not working at my best because of the fog.
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#9 Old 02-24-2016, 11:58 AM
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It sounds to me as though you may very likely be suffering from depression. It doesn't always manifest as a deep despair; what you are describing is one of its common manifestations.

Please do go see a counselor, and if the first (or second, or third) doesn't "click" with you, try another. It's really important to find one with whom you "click."

Also, please know you're not alone in this.
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#10 Old 02-24-2016, 12:18 PM
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I agree about seeking psychological help. You should be able to see a counselor for free, through your university's student health center.


Also, staying indoors, inside your room, can really make depression worse. At the very least, take a 30 or 60 minute walk outdoors, every day.

_________

Specific recommendations for a healthy diet include: eating more fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts and grains; cutting down on salt, sugar and fats. It is also advisable to choose unsaturated fats, instead of saturated fats and towards the elimination of trans-fatty acids."
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http://www.who.int/topics/diet/en/
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#11 Old 02-24-2016, 12:40 PM
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Thanks so much guys! I'll definitely seek a counselor and do as you said David3.
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#12 Old 02-24-2016, 01:49 PM
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It really is amazing what getting outdoors can do for the human psyche. We weren't designed to stay indoors all day long every day.

Good luck with counseling, or whatever you decide.
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#13 Old 02-24-2016, 04:27 PM
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In your list of supps I didn't see iron. I sometimes get a brain-fog type feeling, and for me it's lack of iron. It makes me feel like I'm kind of floating around all day, seeing things but not properly taking them in. It's like a fuzzy feeling in my head. But anytime I get this, 1 or 2 days taking iron supps clears it up.
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#14 Old 02-24-2016, 04:59 PM
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The multivitamin has iron listed at 100% recommended intake. I'll also note that I eat a lot of beans (kidney specifically), soy milk, cooked spinach when it's served, peanuts/almonds, and rice. And I'm gonna start eating their oatmeal every morning as well as their sunflower seeds throughout the day.

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#15 Old 02-24-2016, 05:00 PM
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In your list of supps I didn't see iron. I sometimes get a brain-fog type feeling, and for me it's lack of iron. It makes me feel like I'm kind of floating around all day, seeing things but not properly taking them in. It's like a fuzzy feeling in my head. But anytime I get this, 1 or 2 days taking iron supps clears it up.
I would certainly suggest getting levels of things like D, B's, -I'll defer to other people suggestions- but especially iron should never be supplemented without knowing your need! Too much iron - and it's a guy here- can mimic the symptoms of low iron, and be dangerous. Some people even give blood to lower iron levels
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#16 Old 02-24-2016, 05:28 PM
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I would certainly suggest getting levels of things like D, B's, -I'll defer to other people suggestions- but especially iron should never be supplemented without knowing your need! Too much iron - and it's a guy here- can mimic the symptoms of low iron, and be dangerous. Some people even give blood to lower iron levels
Yeah I definitely wouldn't take iron supps unless I need it. My iron deficiency isn't diet-related, it's due to heavy and irregular bleeding during periods. If it wasn't for that I'm fairly sure I wouldn't need to take them at all. But it's worth looking into as the brain fog this person describes sound exactly like how I feel during a low-iron day.
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#17 Old 02-24-2016, 05:29 PM
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I do make sure I eat a lot of variety in the cafeteria feeling stuffed walking out, but if I have all of those supplements why should I need more of the specifics nutrients through supplementation when I can eat my heart out? Yes, I do worry if I don't absorb enough. If I were to buy specific supplements they would be B-complex and DHA, and maybe iron.
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#18 Old 02-24-2016, 05:38 PM
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I do make sure I eat a lot of variety in the cafeteria feeling stuffed walking out, but if I have all of those supplements why should I need more of the specifics nutrients through supplementation when I can eat my heart out? Yes, I do worry if I don't absorb enough. If I were to buy specific supplements they would be B-complex and DHA, and maybe iron.
Try taking iron for a week with vitamin C, as you need a lot of vitamin C to absorb it. Although, if your blood test was normal then I'm not sure. Low iron usually shows up on bloods.
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#19 Old 02-24-2016, 05:56 PM
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As someone who has a history of being a shut in and a loner with mental health issues I understand the feeling "tired" and "Brain fogs" that many people mention. No matter what I do nutritionally, if my mental health decides to affect my energy and thought process then it will regardless. That being said I still try to eat nutritionally and track my nutrition and calories everyday. Instead of coping with medication I use biking. I bike on a trail to commute to work and back. I helps me a lot. I have anxiety issues that if I don't deal with the stress I'm prone to panic attacks. Cycling/biking has become so therapeutic to me. It's become my hobby. I'm not saying ride a bike. Just that when you find a hobby you truly enjoy it can help deal with stress. This totally seems like a mental issue before nutrition.

That said I'm glad you decided to go to counseling ^_^
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#20 Old 02-24-2016, 08:53 PM
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Sorry to hear you're having a tough time!
I would definitely believe something in (or not in) your diet could cause this as I experienced that feeling for years before a few changes really helped me BUT... the fact that it sounds like you were already closing off a little and feeling a bit mentally and emotionally off right before your diet change does make me wonder if it's correlation not causation.

I too am glad you're going to counselling!

(But also want to raise my hand in defense of isolation! I'm actually just emerging after a divine week of it with partner away and a week off work. I've spoken to one other human and it has been wholesome and happy indeed. I'm just one of those people who needs that sometimes. It's very different to my periods of withdrawal before getting healthy though. Those were very unhappy and I wanted to stop being alone but just...had no motivation not to be. Or something. Anyway... yep.)
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#21 Old 02-24-2016, 11:19 PM
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Hi OP, try eating more fats! Your body is doubtless used to much more fats than you're now eating. Splash some olive oil on and in things, avocado, nuts and nut butters, throw seeds or walnuts on top of meals. I bet you feel improvement in a week with extra calories and fats added.

Maybe also add in some vitamin D supplements (skip the iron) or sunshine on your skin. I agree with being out in nature, it doesn't have to be anything big: A little walk with some trees around, or near water. I always have to throw in a recimmendation for meditation and yoga because for me they improved a lot in my life, particularly re anxiety.

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#22 Old 02-25-2016, 12:12 AM
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Try taking iron for a week with vitamin C, as you need a lot of vitamin C to absorb it. Although, if your blood test was normal then I'm not sure. Low iron usually shows up on bloods.
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As someone who has a history of being a shut in and a loner with mental health issues I understand the feeling "tired" and "Brain fogs" that many people mention. No matter what I do nutritionally, if my mental health decides to affect my energy and thought process then it will regardless. That being said I still try to eat nutritionally and track my nutrition and calories everyday. Instead of coping with medication I use biking. I bike on a trail to commute to work and back. I helps me a lot. I have anxiety issues that if I don't deal with the stress I'm prone to panic attacks. Cycling/biking has become so therapeutic to me. It's become my hobby. I'm not saying ride a bike. Just that when you find a hobby you truly enjoy it can help deal with stress. This totally seems like a mental issue before nutrition.

That said I'm glad you decided to go to counseling ^_^
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Sorry to hear you're having a tough time!
I would definitely believe something in (or not in) your diet could cause this as I experienced that feeling for years before a few changes really helped me BUT... the fact that it sounds like you were already closing off a little and feeling a bit mentally and emotionally off right before your diet change does make me wonder if it's correlation not causation.

I too am glad you're going to counselling!

(But also want to raise my hand in defense of isolation! I'm actually just emerging after a divine week of it with partner away and a week off work. I've spoken to one other human and it has been wholesome and happy indeed. I'm just one of those people who needs that sometimes. It's very different to my periods of withdrawal before getting healthy though. Those were very unhappy and I wanted to stop being alone but just...had no motivation not to be. Or something. Anyway... yep.)
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Hi OP, try eating more fats! Your body is doubtless used to much more fats than you're now eating. Splash some olive oil on and in things, avocado, nuts and nut butters, throw seeds or walnuts on top of meals. I bet you feel improvement in a week with extra calories and fats added.

Maybe also add in some vitamin D supplements (skip the iron) or sunshine on your skin. I agree with being out in nature, it doesn't have to be anything big: A little walk with some trees around, or near water. I always have to throw in a recimmendation for meditation and yoga because for me they improved a lot in my life, particularly re anxiety.

Join in here and look at the amazing food for ideas.. hope all goes well.

I just went to the store and bought some B complex, iron and vitamin C. I'll definitely walk around my school soaking in the sunshine and even meditate outside when it's warm enough. And I hope my counseling sessions work out and are worthwhile. And with the coconut oil and seeds and peanuts/almonds in my diet, that'll help with my caloric and fat intake. Thanks for all the advice! I'll keeping fighting for a solution and try to push on every day even though it's really debilitating.
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#23 Old 02-25-2016, 03:03 AM
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I just went to the store and bought some B complex, iron and vitamin C. I'll definitely walk around my school soaking in the sunshine and even meditate outside when it's warm enough. And I hope my counseling sessions work out and are worthwhile. And with the coconut oil and seeds and peanuts/almonds in my diet, that'll help with my caloric and fat intake. Thanks for all the advice! I'll keeping fighting for a solution and try to push on every day even though it's really debilitating.
Keep posting and let us know if anything changes!
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#24 Old 02-25-2016, 03:27 AM
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I just went to the store and bought some B complex, iron and vitamin C. I'll definitely walk around my school soaking in the sunshine and even meditate outside when it's warm enough. And I hope my counseling sessions work out and are worthwhile. And with the coconut oil and seeds and peanuts/almonds in my diet, that'll help with my caloric and fat intake. Thanks for all the advice! I'll keeping fighting for a solution and try to push on every day even though it's really debilitating.
Please get your iron checked beforeadding a supplement !
While you can guess by things like do the insides of your eyelids look white rather than pinkish red, the 'feelings' are iron deficiency are quite the same as iron overload-which can be worse! I also suggest getting D levels checked. Supplementing D won't hurt, but your symptoms do align with low D levels and it would helpful to know if that's a contributor before you start supplementing D. Same with B's
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#25 Old 02-25-2016, 06:33 AM
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I just went to the store and bought some B complex, iron and vitamin C. I'll definitely walk around my school soaking in the sunshine and even meditate outside when it's warm enough. And I hope my counseling sessions work out and are worthwhile. And with the coconut oil and seeds and peanuts/almonds in my diet, that'll help with my caloric and fat intake. Thanks for all the advice! I'll keeping fighting for a solution and try to push on every day even though it's really debilitating.
Keep posting and let us know if anything changes!
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Originally Posted by JWVC702 View Post
I just went to the store and bought some B complex, iron and vitamin C. I'll definitely walk around my school soaking in the sunshine and even meditate outside when it's warm enough. And I hope my counseling sessions work out and are worthwhile. And with the coconut oil and seeds and peanuts/almonds in my diet, that'll help with my caloric and fat intake. Thanks for all the advice! I'll keeping fighting for a solution and try to push on every day even though it's really debilitating.
Please get your iron checked beforeadding a supplement !
While you can guess by things like do the insides of your eyelids look white rather than pinkish red, the 'feelings' are iron deficiency are quite the same as iron overload-which can be worse! I also suggest getting D levels checked. Supplementing D won't hurt, but your symptoms do align with low D levels and it would helpful to know if that's a contributor before you start supplementing D. Same with B's

Even though I did have my blood work done, I can't go outside of school to have further blood work because of financial reasons and conflicts with my parents so I'll take it day by day and configure the way I supplement throughout the day and week to avoid symptoms as you listed.

And hey, I took the B complex, iron and vitamin C, last night with some soy milk and coconut oil with food and my eyes don't feel strained as they would feel but I still have the fogginess. I'm gonna keep taking these though and hope to see greater progress.
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#26 Old 02-25-2016, 07:18 AM
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Did they check for iron? I know D is a special request. not sure about B's

You can always donate blood for a very limited check on iron. The red cross is very lenient so even if you're too low to donate you may be ok. Don't drink coffee or tea beforehand. Ask what the level they get is. Really, too much is not good
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#27 Old 02-25-2016, 01:56 PM
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I'm gonna see if I can get a friend to help me with seeing a doctor outside of school to specifically check my nutrient composition.

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#28 Old 02-25-2016, 02:19 PM
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I seriously doubt that less than a year of a vegan diet with sufficient calories is going to lead to some brain-fog causing deficiency.

If you want blood tests, an H and H and vitamin D and B12 levels should be inexpensive and give you the info you need. You said you recently had bloodwork? If your hemoglobin and hematocrit are normal, stop taking supplemtal iron unless told by an MD.

(And then you only need the B12 and vit D tests as your h and h won't change much unless you're hemorrhaging or have eating disordered behaviors. If you suspect an ED, tell the doc. They will want to add a CMP or something similar.)
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#29 Old 02-25-2016, 09:25 PM
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I seriously doubt that less than a year of a vegan diet with sufficient calories is going to lead to some brain-fog causing deficiency.

If you want blood tests, an H and H and vitamin D and B12 levels should be inexpensive and give you the info you need. You said you recently had bloodwork? If your hemoglobin and hematocrit are normal, stop taking supplemtal iron unless told by an MD.

(And then you only need the B12 and vit D tests as your h and h won't change much unless you're hemorrhaging or have eating disordered behaviors. If you suspect an ED, tell the doc. They will want to add a CMP or something similar.)
My H and H levels are normal so no need for further iron supplementation like you said. Again, I'm gonna convince a friend to help me out in obtaining blood work that includes nutrient composition like vitamin D especially.
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#30 Old 03-04-2016, 07:04 AM
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My H and H levels are normal so no need for further iron supplementation like you said. Again, I'm gonna convince a friend to help me out in obtaining blood work that includes nutrient composition like vitamin D especially.
I was recently diagnosed with an almost debilitating Vitamin D deficiency. Mine was an 8, yes, you read that right, an 8. I was/am suffering intense brain fog, distractibility, depressive symptoms, extreme fatigue, unexplained weight gain of 15 pounds in two months, and aches and pains. My physician recommended 10,000 IU and he will recheck my levels in 4 months. I started the supplement (vegan D3) this week and am hoping for relief in the next weeks/months. Everything I have read and my doctor agrees, that if possible the ideal way to get your Vitamin D is through sunlight exposure. For me, a fair skinned person of medium build, 10 to 20 minutes of morning sun a day should suffice (once my stores are back to normal). I work inside all day and hardly ever go outside without sunscreen, especially over the past year. I am definitely going to be very conscious about getting some unfiltered sun exposure (not too much!) daily as the weather allows. Never in a million years would I have suspected a vitamin D deficiency as the cause for all my health problems over the past 2 months.

I'm not sure if that is the issue for you, but if your levels are low (I have a friend who was considered low at 28 and given supplements), take it very seriously.

Best of luck with your health, friend.
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