How To Spot Nutrient Deficiency Symptoms
Earlier in the week, I posted about some of the common nutrient deficiencies that vegans are often susceptible to, and what foods you can eat to make sure you avoid them. Surprisingly, there are a handful of foods that cover over 90% of these nutrients, and adding them to your daily diet can really make a positive impact on your health! These foods include avocado, spinach, bell peppers, sunflower seeds, bananas, oatmeal, and almonds.
But none of us are spending all of our free time (sorry, what is 'free time'?) tracking our micronutrients and ensuring we are getting our daily recommended amounts. Therefore, it's important that we check in often both with our healthcare providers, and with our own bodies. I make sure to get all of my levels checked by my doctor about once every 4-6 months. I'm going to be super honest here - I kind of jumped into my vegan venture on a whim, and did not take nearly enough time to properly research my new nutrition requirements. I first saw my doctor about 4 months after starting to eat vegan, and the results.... were poor to say the least. I just cut out all of the animal products that I had previously been consuming, and that's about it. I did not make any other dietary changes, did not add any new foods to my diet, and did not pay attention at all to my body's signals.
After this first appointment, I made a number of critical changes. I was not getting nearly enough protein, I had incredibly low B12, my iron was dropping, and was consuming virtually no Omega 3. My body was trying to tell me this, but I wasn't listening. I was just thinking, "Oh I must just be getting the flu. I'm feeling exhausted, no energy, trouble concentrating... the symptoms are a little worse than usual, but it's flu season so I'm sure that's it." WRONG.
Like I mentioned, it's important to see your doctor often, but there are also a lot of symptoms that you can recognize on your own and adjust your diet accordingly. Now obviously some of the symptoms of nutrient deficiency can be attributed to other causes, so I can't guarantee changing your diet as a response with be a solution. However, if you are new to a vegan diet and are experiencing any of the symptoms, there' a good chance your diet is the culprit.
I've made another chart below to recap the major nutrients that vegans are often prone to developing a deficiency in, and the main symptoms that come along with these deficiencies. I still use this chart every day that I'm not quite feeling myself, and it really isn't even exclusive to vegans. The majority of this information I have received from my healthcare providers - but as you know, the internet knows all so you can of course do some informal research of your own to learn more.