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Avocado Enthusiast
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
For about 3 years, I’ve been a vegetarian who doesn’t eat cheese or eggs. Hair loss and fatigue have become major problems for me, and I also broke a bone for the first time recently.

Despite the fact that these symptoms trace back to when I first went vegetarian, my initial assumption was that I had some kind of disease. I’ve seen tons of doctors and specialists, but my labs always come back perfectly normal. I’m not anemic, my thyroid is healthy (I’ve had a full panel done), and I don’t have any immune disorders. No deficiencies show up on my blood work. For several months I tried taking a daily multivitamin, B12, biotin, and a “hair and nails” supplement, but they did nothing to help my symptoms—and the biotin made me break out.

I take in approximately 1,700 calories/day. The foods I eat most frequently are fortified cereals, whole grains, root veggies, nuts, apples, and protein bars. And, y’know, chocolate.

Have any of you struggled with thinning hair or constant tiredness? If so, were you able to remedy it by changing the foods you ate or taking supplements?


Edit for clarity: I'm a female, 5'4", and 25 years old. I get plenty of sleep and am normally very active (when I'm not waiting for fractured metacarpals to heal).
 

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1,700 calories might very well not be enough unless you're on the shorter side and live a very sedentary life.
I would recommend adding some beans or lentils to your diet. Doesn't seem like you're eating enough foods that are high in iron and protein, especially considering you're only eating 1700 calories.
P.S. Are you guy? If yes, hair thinning might really just be genetics.
 

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Avocado Enthusiast
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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
1,700 calories might very well not be enough unless you're on the shorter side and live a very sedentary life.
I would recommend adding some beans or lentils to your diet. Doesn't seem like you're eating enough foods that are high in iron and protein, especially considering you're only eating 1700 calories.
P.S. Are you guy? If yes, hair thinning might really just be genetics.
Thanks so much for the reply! I'm a short, petite woman and am currently pretty sedentary while I wait for my broken hand to heal-- had to adjust my intake from working out 5-6 days a week to living the hard cast life. The breakfast I just ate had about 85% my DV of iron alone, and I would estimate that I get 50-60g protein/day, but I'm getting most of that from the fortified stuff, and not so much the natural foods. My diet is definitely lacking beans and lentils. I'll work on changing that!
 

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I would agree with adding in the beans and lentils. Also, it didn't seem to me that there was much variety in your fruit and veggie choices... I would try to incorporate more variety into your diet so that you're getting all sorts of different kinds of minerals and vitamins and things (definitely more leafy greens!). I know when my diet lacks variety, I end up eating less and more poorly, and I can visibly see my health plummet after awhile. I feel fatigued, my skin looks worse, and my eyebrows start looking very sparse.

As always, adequate sleep and exercise (even if it's just walking a little more each day) is also good. I broke my foot several months ago and am just getting to the point where I can walk again, so I feel your pain.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I would agree with adding in the beans and lentils. Also, it didn't seem to me that there was much variety in your fruit and veggie choices... I would try to incorporate more variety into your diet so that you're getting all sorts of different kinds of minerals and vitamins and things (definitely more leafy greens!). I know when my diet lacks variety, I end up eating less and more poorly, and I can visibly see my health plummet after awhile. I feel fatigued, my skin looks worse, and my eyebrows start looking very sparse.

As always, adequate sleep and exercise (even if it's just walking a little more each day) is also good. I broke my foot several months ago and am just getting to the point where I can walk again, so I feel your pain.
Thanks for the input! You're right, there isn't a whole lot of variety in what I eat every day. I generally have one meal and one snack that incorporate other fruits and veggies than what I listed above-- but leafy greens get nowhere near as much love as everything else.

So sorry to hear about your foot! That must be very frustrating. Unfortunately, I still struggled with these issues when I was working out regularly. I was definitely in a better mood, though, that's for sure!
 

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No flesh since 99'
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It may not have anything to do with you being a vegetarian. Have you been tested for thyroid problems? Hair loss and fatigue in young women very strongly suggest a possible thyroid issue. Those are both also symptoms of coeliac disease, where even the most balanced diet and supplementation on earth wouldn't help since those with coeliacs cannot absorb nutrients properly.

If I were you, I would visit a naturopathic doctor and have those 2 things tested for first and go from there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
It may not have anything to do with you being a vegetarian. Have you been tested for thyroid problems? Hair loss and fatigue in young women very strongly suggest a possible thyroid issue. Those are both also symptoms of coeliac disease, where even the most balanced diet and supplementation on earth wouldn't help since those with coeliacs cannot absorb nutrients properly.

If I were you, I would visit a naturopathic doctor and have those 2 things tested for first and go from there.
As mentioned in the original post, I have no thyroid problems. I've had multiple doctors run tests for it, and I've also seen a specialist for a full panel that included T3, T4, Reverse T3, and TSH. Celiac is unlikely, as I've had pretty comprehensive immune labs that all turned out normal. I'll keep that in mind and do some more research on it, though! Thanks for the suggestions.
 

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Thanks so much for the reply! I'm a short, petite woman and am currently pretty sedentary while I wait for my broken hand to heal-- had to adjust my intake from working out 5-6 days a week to living the hard cast life. The breakfast I just ate had about 85% my DV of iron alone, and I would estimate that I get 50-60g protein/day, but I'm getting most of that from the fortified stuff, and not so much the natural foods. My diet is definitely lacking beans and lentils. I'll work on changing that!
Are you underweight?
 

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I am interested in learning more about your broken bone. Was this the result of an injury or was it spontaneous? If spontaneous, surely the doctors would follow up with Xrays, DEXA scan, calcium/urine tests, Vitamin D and so on. I have severe osteoporosis from many years of being underweight, having thyroid issues, having lost my ovaries when I was 33 years old, and so on. Even so I have only broken a bone once (after pushing my body too hard with running). And I have horrid DEXA scan scores for someone my age. It takes years to lose bone density (bone turnover happens very slowly) so more than likely if your bone density is low it is not from being vegetarian as it probably started years ago.

Have you ever looked into some vegetarian or vegan nutrition books? They might be helpful in figuring out how to get more calcium, protein, and other nutrients from natural food. Beans are a great source of both protein and calcium (as well as iron). So is tofu. Other great sources of plant calcium are figs, blackstrap molasses (great on hot cereal or in an Asian sauce), sesame seeds or tahini, low oxylate leafy greens (broccoli, collards, kale, bok choy). Tempeh is a great source of protein, and homemade seitan (from vital wheat gluten). I know for me, when I am not getting enough protein I strain muscles easier (I also work out five to six days per week).
 

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Avocado Enthusiast
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Are you underweight?
No. At 5'4" and 110 lbs, I'm within a healthy range.

I am interested in learning more about your broken bone. Was this the result of an injury or was it spontaneous? If spontaneous, surely the doctors would follow up with Xrays, DEXA scan, calcium/urine tests, Vitamin D and so on. I have severe osteoporosis from many years of being underweight, having thyroid issues, having lost my ovaries when I was 33 years old, and so on. Even so I have only broken a bone once (after pushing my body too hard with running). And I have horrid DEXA scan scores for someone my age. It takes years to lose bone density (bone turnover happens very slowly) so more than likely if your bone density is low it is not from being vegetarian as it probably started years ago.

Have you ever looked into some vegetarian or vegan nutrition books? They might be helpful in figuring out how to get more calcium, protein, and other nutrients from natural food. Beans are a great source of both protein and calcium (as well as iron). So is tofu. Other great sources of plant calcium are figs, blackstrap molasses (great on hot cereal or in an Asian sauce), sesame seeds or tahini, low oxylate leafy greens (broccoli, collards, kale, bok choy). Tempeh is a great source of protein, and homemade seitan (from vital wheat gluten). I know for me, when I am not getting enough protein I strain muscles easier (I also work out five to six days per week).
It happened because of an injury that was my own stupid fault. I fell out of a handstand and fractured 3 metacarpals, and my assumption is that those bones were already near the breaking point from technique errors in my boxing classes. None of the doctors suspected osteoporosis as a culprit. I'm so sorry to hear about the health issues you've been battling; I've had family members with similar problems. Hearing about bone turnover is really interesting-- I wonder how far back the damage usually stretches? I've had a few spurts of being underweight, but they never lasted for more than 6 months, so I'm not sure whether they would've done any harm. Gonna have to Google that.

Thank you for the tips! This chronic fatigue has collided with my depression to drain all my motivation to cook, so I've become lazy about the range of foods I have. Looks like I need to get my **** together and eat more beans and leafy greens! I love tofu, tempeh, and seitan, but only have them about once a week. Maybe continuing to ogle the delicious food on your Flickr will inspire me.
 

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No. At 5'4" and 110 lbs, I'm within a healthy range.

It happened because of an injury that was my own stupid fault. I fell out of a handstand and fractured 3 metacarpals, and my assumption is that those bones were already near the breaking point from technique errors in my boxing classes. None of the doctors suspected osteoporosis as a culprit. I'm so sorry to hear about the health issues you've been battling; I've had family members with similar problems. Hearing about bone turnover is really interesting-- I wonder how far back the damage usually stretches? I've had a few spurts of being underweight, but they never lasted for more than 6 months, so I'm not sure whether they would've done any harm. Gonna have to Google that.

Thank you for the tips! This chronic fatigue has collided with my depression to drain all my motivation to cook, so I've become lazy about the range of foods I have. Looks like I need to get my **** together and eat more beans and leafy greens! I love tofu, tempeh, and seitan, but only have them about once a week. Maybe continuing to ogle the delicious food on your Flickr will inspire me.
I'm sorry about your wrist too! Sounds very painful. Thanks for the explanation! I do think that even short spurts of being underweight can cause damage. For example, my second dexa scan in 2008 was when I was at my highest ever weight of 132 lbs and my numbers had actually improved dramatically from my 2006 DEXA. Hip went from -1.8 to -1.2 and spine went from -3.2 to -3.0. Still awful numbers but improved. But shortly after that I lost over 43 lbs due to my ED. I eventually gained back 16 of those lbs by 2010 and had another DEXA scan and my numbers dropped from -1.2 to -1.6 hip (spine stayed the same...it seems that it takes longer to gain or lose bone density in the spine). I presume the drop in number was due to the year I was very underweight. I had a relapse back to my worst in 2013 and again in 2014 had my last dexa scan and again my numbers had dropped in hip from -1.6 to -1.8 and spine dropped from -3.0 to -3.6. The spine score really scared the crap out of me, and it helped me finally push to get my weight up to a much healthier place.

I weigh very close to what you weigh now, slightly taller, but many doctors still think I am too thin and would like me to gain more. It's still a battle for me, and I want to justify that my bmi is right at the low end of "normal" range so where I am is ok (and I feel like I move better at this weight compared to a higher weight), but deep down I know that this isn't necessarily healthy either. It shouldn't take an effort to stay at a certain weight if you aren't meant to be there. I was a little suspicious when you mentioned eating less due to being inactive and keeping calorie intake to 1700 to make up for it. When I was your age (long before my ED) I don't remember ever counting calories or even weighing myself. I didn't own a scale. I easily maintained my weight between 116-122 lbs (according to doctor visits) for years being naturally very active. Maybe 110 lbs is your natural weight or you are an athlete and desire a certain physique. I'm trying not to judge. But I know that restricting intake for prolonged periods can cause hair loss, trust me. And fatigue, and injuries. My restrictions weren't even that low to be honest, not a lot lower than your intake, though I was exercising like a mad woman. Eating a little more can help heal injuries faster and provide an extra boost of nutrients.

I can totally understand if you don't feel much like cooking right now with your injury and depression. Do you have any friends or family that could help out with meals? I hope you feel better soon.
 

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No. At 5'4" and 110 lbs, I'm within a healthy range.

It happened because of an injury that was my own stupid fault. I fell out of a handstand and fractured 3 metacarpals, and my assumption is that those bones were already near the breaking point from technique errors in my boxing classes. None of the doctors suspected osteoporosis as a culprit. I'm so sorry to hear about the health issues you've been battling; I've had family members with similar problems. Hearing about bone turnover is really interesting-- I wonder how far back the damage usually stretches? I've had a few spurts of being underweight, but they never lasted for more than 6 months, so I'm not sure whether they would've done any harm. Gonna have to Google that.

Thank you for the tips! This chronic fatigue has collided with my depression to drain all my motivation to cook, so I've become lazy about the range of foods I have. Looks like I need to get my **** together and eat more beans and leafy greens! I love tofu, tempeh, and seitan, but only have them about once a week. Maybe continuing to ogle the delicious food on your Flickr will inspire me.
When you said metacarpals, I suspected boxing. Ugh, not a fun healing process. I would rely a lot on easy meals like frozen vegs (still healthy, cheap, easy) and stir fry them with canned beans and some jar sauce, over rice or quinoa, or toast. Or a microwaved potato with canned refried beans and some shredded cabbage (bagged) or spinach, cherry tomatoes (no slicing needed). Hand fruit is easy, apples, etc.

My husband has limiited use of his right arm due to an old head injury, and these are things he cooks often. Also oatmeal lol lots of oatmeal.
 

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I'd like to throw this even though it may not apply. Hair growth cycles. I never knew about it because unless other things change in your life it probably goes unnoticed. I never noticed it until I changed jobs. My hair that I had to constantly trim from going in my eyes just seemed to quit growing, and thats when I looked it up--
http://www.viviscal.com/hair-growth-cycle

This is a favorite recipe of mine for being so cheap, easy, and versatile you may like to try-

Red lentil kofta--
Simmer
1 cup red lentils in
2 cups water
for 15 minutes (they should be soft)
Then turn off heat and stir in-
1/2 cup bulgar (cracked wheat)
Let sit

this is like a pate, and I make cold patties for sandwiches just like veggie patties, but cold, with sliced onion, pickles, mayo, mustard- whatever you'd put on a sandwich. I used a hot dog bun once with relish, onion and mayo and swear it tasted more like a hot dog than any I've had in a very long time- without being 'meaty'
You can mix in diced veggies, form patties and coat with breadcrumbs or even just flour, and sautee
You can add to veggie broth and frozen veggies for a quick lentil soup
You can add to rice with peas
add to pasta sauce for a quick bolongaise

I've made this with rinsed quinoa instead of bulgar and that also works well.
Lots of easy protein with this and lentils are also high in potassium and iron

almost forgot-- add spices as you like. I usually make plain so i have a pot for most of the week and add things like cumin, garlic or sriracha as needed
 

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Do you have any issues with ibs or ibd by chance? I'm asking because sometimes people who have bowel troubles are deficient in vitamin D3 and calcium. The Canadian Huffington Post just posted an article about the connection between the two. People who are deficient tend to break bones easily and have osteoporosis at an earlier age.
 

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hello, i read through your post and comments from other members.

I was actually thinking if the reason could be more than diet.

Based on the asian way of thinking, the main reason for hair long are two.

Firstly, it is hereditary. If you parents or grand parents have similar problems, it could be passed down.

Secondly, it is stress. Stress often results in an imbalance in hormones, which could lead to hair problems.

I would actually suggest meditation, which can improve breathing and clearing up thoughts which could be unknowing leading to certain forms of stress.

Let me know if you are interested in this, I will be glad to share more on it :)
 
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