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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been a vegetarian for quite a while. I was anemic before I became a vegetarian and I developed chronic anemia after I transitioned. My doctor prescribed ferrous sulphate. Does anyone else have issues with anemia or other health issues that developed after you transitioned to being vegetarian?:(
 

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I'm sorry you are struggling with anemia. I have not had any issues with anemia, in fact I had my hemoglobin checked a few months ago to screen for something else and it was very healthy after years of being vegan.

However, I was diagnosed with osteoporosis (via DEXA scan) in 2006 as an omni. It has gotten worse over the years, even as a vegan, despite conservative treatments. I am now on a fairly toxic, powerful shot to stop progression. I had held off on it for 8 years and my spine T score went from -3.0 to -3.6 and I was suffering chronic bone pain and suspect fractures in my pelvis. So I had to do something more drastic. I do understand that it can be a challenge to manage some conditions where diet makes a difference either positively or negatively. I have to be very diligent about meeting my calcium/D/magnesium/and other bone building mineral needs. I try to get as much from diet as possible because my body can't handle many supplements. And with the shot I am on, I HAVE to make sure I have enough blood calcium because the shot pulls calcium from the blood and puts it into my bones. It is not an option and I have my vitamin D and blood calcium checked before every shot. Vegan sources of calcium are abundant but not as high in calcium as dairy per serving, so it means eating more of them each day.

It sounds like your anemia actually started as an omni? Did your doctor give you any indication of underlying reasons? Do you have heavy periods (assuming you are female)? Or other intestinal absorption issues? How is the ferrous sulphate working for you?

I eat a lot of leafy greens daily for a variety of reasons...calcium, iron, etc. Beans are a good source of iron, and soy foods. Wheat germ is also, and some nuts/seeds. Blackstrap molasses is an excellent source of iron and even calcium. I use it often. Getting a high amount of a vitamin C source when you consume iron rich foods will also help with iron absorption. For example, a salad with kale or spinach in it could also have orange slices or red bell pepper slices in it as a vitamin C source that would aid in absorption of the iron from the kale. A hot cereal sprinkled with a few tablespoons of wheat germ could also have chopped strawberries or another berry mixed in there too. I like to make orange tofu stir fries and use blackstrap molasses in my sauce, along with fresh orange/juice. Plant sources of iron (non heme) are abundant but can be harder to absorb than meat sources of iron (heme). So adding the vitamin C is important. Limiting coffee and dairy products when consuming plant iron foods (or your prescription) is also important to help with absorption. It is easy for me to share all this having not suffered with anemia myself. I think it would be important to make sure you know the reason for the iron deficiency anemia. Is it really because of being vegetarian? If so, then it would be a simple matter of increasing iron rich foods and being diligent about it, along with steps to make sure it is absorbed. If there is another underlying condition it would mean treating that. Of course, I understand that the human body is complicated and it is often not just one problem. This is the way it is with my osteoporosis. I have long term hypothyroidism (diagnosed in 1989) and have been on thyroid meds for many years and that contributed to my bone loss. I was underweight, sometimes severely so, for over six years which also contributed. I lost my ovaries eleven years ago in 2005 and went into abrupt surgical menopause which accelerated my bone loss. It took me three years after that just to find a hormone replacement my body would absorb and that made me feel human again. I can do something about the hormones and weight, and have, but the thyroid stuff is a bit more tricky. It also means I have to be careful with soy consumption, which happens to be an excellent source of iron, calcium, protein, so I have to find a happy balance and keep my vegan diet varied.

I hope you start feeling better and get back to being your healthy self! There is no shame in having anemia. It is not an uncommon condition. HUGS
 

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Thank you so much for your response. I've learned so much. How do soy products affect your thyroidism?
You are welcome! Soy can inhibit absorption of thyroid medication, specifically the Synthroid I take. To be fair, so can calcium supplements, iron rich foods, and other food compounds. I have to take my thyroid meds on an empty stomach and at least four hours away from the above foods. I don't avoid soy, I just limit consumption so I am not consuming it daily.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
In another thread I heard about carageenan being the culprit not soy. Never heard about carageenan before. Does this affect your diet as well?
 

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In another thread I heard about carageenan being the culprit not soy. Never heard about carageenan before. Does this affect your diet as well?
In that thread, the poster mentioned that carageenan caused intestinal issues for her. She thought soy was the culprit of her intestinal issues but later discovered it was carageenan. Carageenan is not a problem for me as far as intestinal issues. Soy is also not a problem as far as intestinal issues. The reason I have to limit it is that it interferes with thyroid medication absorption. Quite a few years ago I started drinking soy milk daily because dairy milk made me sick with diarrhea and bad cramps. Soy milk did not have that affect. However, within a few months of consuming soy milk every day, I was extremely exhausted all the time, and my hair started falling out. When I start getting symptoms like this, I almost always have my thyroid blood levels checked first to rule that out, and sure enough, my thyroid TSH was WAY too high, meaning my thyroid was putting out more thyroid stimulating hormone in an attempt to increase my thyroid hormone production. My production was lower due to my thyroid meds not working as well, and this was more than likely due to the increased soy milk intake. If I consume soy products....tofu, tempeh, cliff bars, occasional vegan "meats", soy yogurt etc a few times per week it is no big deal, but if I start consuming several servings a day you can bet my thyroid meds are not going to work as well. I also do not absorb the generic version of my thyroid meds either, and spend 3x the $ for the brand name, just so I can feel human and have some energy. I have had thyroid issues since I was first diagnosed in 1989 (I had a goiter back then), and NOTHING has been able to cure it. not a raw food vegan diet (which I did try strictly here and there), not increased exercise, not different meds, not avoiding any particular food. I can certainly take steps to manage it though. No cause for my thyroid issues has ever been found (I tested negative for hashimotos). It runs in my family so I am guessing it must be a genetic thing. Interestingly, I have lived in or near the Great Lakes Region of the U.S. all my life, and at one point there was a study on frogs and seagulls in this region having a prevalence of thyroid disorders. I'd have to dig to find it. I do try to include sources of iodine in my diet (such as sea vegetables), but not too much as that can worsen my thyroid condition.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I'm new here but I'm seeing so many parallels that occurred in my health history and my sister's. I do not have thyroid issues but my sister does. My grandmother had a large goitre and had it removed. I don't have a lot of soy products because I also have a history of breast cancer and fibrocystic breasts and my doc said continued soy use is not good. So I limit my Silk intake. I used to alternate between Silk and Lactaid. I plan to share the information about carrageenan or soy with my sister if you don't mind because I don't' think she knows about this. It's proving to be a good decision to join this forum. Thank so much
 

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I don't have a lot of soy products because I also have a history of breast cancer and fibrocystic breasts and my doc said continued soy use is not good. So I limit my Silk intake. I used to alternate between Silk and Lactaid.

Hi Sophia,

I dread saying this, but your physician's information may be incorrect. Please read the American Cancer Society's statement on soy foods and breast cancer risk: http://www.cancer.org/cancer/news/features/how-your-diet-may-affect-your-risk-of-breast-cancer


To quote the American Cancer Society:

"In some animal studies, rats that were exposed to high doses of compounds found in soy called isoflavones showed an increased risk of breast cancer. This is thought to be because the isoflavones in soy can act like estrogen in the body, and increased estrogen has been linked to certain types of breast cancer. But rats process soy differently from people, and the same results have not been seen in people. In fact, in human studies, the estrogen effects of soy seem to either reduce breast cancer risk, or have no effect at all. This might be because the isoflavones can actually block the more potent natural estrogens in the blood."

.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Hi David, thanks so much for your post. It's interesting information and I regret waiting until now to check this thread. I had an appointment with my doc this morning. I could have asked about the soy in light of your posting. Next time!!! May I ask what caused you be choose being a vegan as opposed to being vegetarian? I've been one or the other at different stages of my adult life.
 

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Hi David, thanks so much for your post. It's interesting information and I regret waiting until now to check this thread. I had an appointment with my doc this morning. I could have asked about the soy in light of your posting. Next time!!! May I ask what caused you be choose being a vegan as opposed to being vegetarian? I've been one or the other at different stages of my adult life.

Hi Sophia,

Your physician's anti-soy advice may be coming from a 2014 study, published in the peer-reviewed Journal of the National Cancer Institute, which suggested that high-potency soy protein supplements could adversely affect gene expression in breast cancer: http://jnci.oxfordjournals.org/content/106/9/dju189.full.pdf+html .

The women in the study were give 52 grams of soy protein extract per day (the equivalent of drinking 1-1/2 quarts of soymilk per day, every day). Because most women only need about 50 grams of protein per day (0.8 grams of protein per kg of lean body mass), this is the equivalent of getting 100% of your protein from soy.

This study found no evidence that soy actually causes more breast cancer. Rather, the study found that high-potency soy supplements could adversely affect gene expression in a way that potentially increases cancer risk. This is in general agreement with the American Cancer Society's 2015 recommendation against taking soy supplements ( http://www.cancer.org/cancer/news/features/how-your-diet-may-affect-your-risk-of-breast-cancer ).

Yes, it would be a very good idea to discuss all of this with your physician.

.
 
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