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Vegan nutrition help: am I missing something??

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To start off, I'm a 17 y/o female who has been vegan for over a year and a half and vegetarian for over 3 years. I have no desire to ever go back!!

I eat a whole foods diet, no refined grains or deep fried foods, fake vegan cheeses, etc.

I buy organic often and local when I can. I eat a lot of fruits and veggies (at least 5 servings each per day, more in the Summer), including leafy greens like kale and collard.

The only refined food I eat would be vegan white sugar occasionally when I'm making pad thai. Otherwise, I use maple syrup as a sweetener (and not too much of it either).

I feel like I eat super healthy, especially compared to most teenagers, but I don't look or feel like it... I typically have good energy when at home, but at school I just feel so exhausted. I have had acne problems which are going away and binging problems, but I've been in control for the past 2 1/2 weeks.

I am trying to lose weight (15 lbs), but I'm not rushing it and am taking things slowly... (I typically eat 1800-1900 calories a day).  I have rings under my eyes and just look tired all the time!

I figure I must be missing something... I started taking iron supplements a couple weeks ago in case it was anemia, but it didn't fix the problem. Maybe B12? Or could it have something to do with my thyroud? (Last check-up, I had a slightly large thyroid). Or could it be Vitamin D? Haven't been getting much sunlight lately (coollld).

My eyes feel like they're a little puff, too, and when I apply pressure/cold they feel better. I hope it's not glaucoma... :0

Any help would be greatly appreciated! :)

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You should go to a dietician and see what they say (not a nutritionist, those people don't have half the education dieticians do). I am not going to try to bash your diet or your lifestyle decision but sometimes when you're not eating animal products you're just not getting enough nutrients. I'm not saying it's impossible to get them, but it's harder and apparently you're not meeting those goals. But to pick a vitamin/mineral and then take supplements by trial and error and see what works is NOT the way to do it. Go speak to someone who is qualified to assess your diet and needs.

Also if you are 17 and even slightly active I would think you need to eat more calories.

I had similar problems and I couldn't figure it out either. I looked up deficiency and came across this website: cy.html

I do suggest going to a doctor but if you can't like me do this:

1) Write down the ones on the list that you have had recently or at the moment even if its just a tiny bit. Also write down what vitamins and minerals it relates to.

2) You're likely to have quite a few vitamins so make a list and tally to see which ones are the most likely suspect.

for example: Zinc had 6 points (six different symptoms) and B6 had 5. These two were the highest so I bought foods high in both and I feel a LOT better with a lot more energy and the symptoms are declining.

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I went vegan about 8 months ago after a good 39 years of a healthy omnivorous life. I noticed severe head aches at about month 5, boosted the greens and felt a lot better. I did notice a lot of mental lapses and decided to try b-12... I've been doing this about a month now and feel much better.

I'd suggest a multivitamin, it cannot hurt. Also given that you are just coming into your prime, are you getting enough sleep? That could be a huge factor.

Also, are you drinking enough water? I've noticed that since going vegan, if I don't get my full 8 cups + two water bottles or so per workout, I feel and look horrible! Much like a hangover, which you may or may not understand.

Thanks for all the replies! :)

Armandounc- That's not a bad idea... I think I was a little sick that weekend, because I do feel better but not quite 100%. I think I'm going to tweak my diet a little bit before I decide to pay for a dietician, though.


Winteredrose- That site is great! Thanks! I was using a different one that did it by nutrient, not symptom, so it required guessing. I'll start keeping a log about different symptoms.

zfuchs- Yeah, I haven't been eating nearly as much leafies as I do in Summer/ should be. It's hard when it costs $3.50 for only about 50 calories worth of veggies, but the money is for the micronutrients, not the macro :)

I'm trying to do more green smoothies now. Since I'm not much into raw during the Winter, smoothies are a good way to sneak in tons of greens without cooking them at all.

 Also, I'm definitely getting enough sleep- at least 7 hours a day. My sleep cycle is pretty constant, I go to be usually around 10:30 or 11 and wake up 6:15-6:30 ish (yeah, I'm a strange teenager....).

I think I drink enough water, especially when you take in the water from fruits and veggies, but I tend to drink a pint very quickly, so I think most of it goes straight to the bladder rather than being absorbed.


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I have had all of your symptoms and I was diagnosed after a blood test as iron deficient anemic. Iron and vegan b12 supplements helped me a lot, but it took 6 months of daily intake to see results and my stomach had trouble adjusting at first.

Wow, thanks. I've been taking the supplements for 2-3 weeks now and have seen only a minimal change. I guess I should keep taking them, and yeah, my stomach has been hurting a bit too. 6 months is a long time though, but I'll keep taking them :)

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Keep on keepin on! You may want to try getting the slow release iron supplements if it gets worse, and make sure you're not taking them with other supplements that affect absorption (e.g. Calcium). And it couldn't hurt to get a blood test in case this isn't about iron, of course!

I only take iron in the morning with breakfast, which does tend to be a calcium-high meal (fortified almond milk, soy yogurts...). Maybe I should switch that.

I also have a B complex, but I powdered up the supplements to mix it in with smoothies and what not.

My energy levels have definitely gone up, seemingly. I'll justr pay close attention to the rings under my eyes and see if they begin to clear up. Anyone know how long that will take?

You should try VegLife Vital Teen Girls Multiple vitamins :). I take them every morning!

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