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I love to run. I'm a full time grad student and it keeps me focused. I enjoy long distance running and have completed one full marathon and 4 half marathons .Although the half is my favorite distance, my goal is to complete 1-2 full marathons per year. I ran 6 races this past fall and felt more weak and fatigue after each one (the full marathon was earlier in the year). My pace was not improving, in fact, it was getting worse. I saw a doctor for some stomach pain (which is still in question) only to find out I am severely ANEMIC. Strangely, I felt a little better after hearing this because I did notice how I was constantly tired and was experiencing a lot of dizziness. My doctor said my iron levels were very low and he was surprised I was running at all. He also told me my vegetarian diet would not cause my iron levels to be so low and it was likely due to too much blood loss. I've been told to stick to light exercise until my iron is back to normal.
I want to make the leap to being fully vegan. I've tried in the past (raw vegan in college for some time) but with a grad student budget and crazy lifestyle, I gave up. Honestly, I've made far too many excuses! Now what's keeping me are the words SEVERELY ANEMIC and I'm not even sure why. I saw a nutritionist a few weeks ago and although she recommended some great recipes, eggs and fish and cheese were all on the list. I do NOT want to feel like I HAVE to eat meat and dairy if I want to increase iron in my diet AND be a better runner.
So that's one of the reasons I joined this community! Anyone else out there have issues with anemia? I appreciate any and all support! Thanks.
I am in a very similar situation to you!I was raw vegan for 3 years. But I still felt pretty low on energy. So I switched to macrobiotic mostly vegan for a while now. It feels much more natural to me in this climate and a lot less stressful in social situations. I am pretty happy with it. However, about a year ago (before I switched to cooked), I went to the doctor because I was so tired. I was running around 100k per month at that time. I turned out I was severely anemic. (I have been tested to be anemic as a teenager, eating meat before). I started taking some nano iron supplements and it went a bit better. And I also took multiminerals from 'the herborist'. Although this seems to help a bit, it seems that there is another problem that causes this. Somebody pointed me to the fact that lack of vitamin C could cause bad iron absorption. But as a raw vegan, I ate tons of fruits and all... low on vit c? Seems inplausible... I don't know...
I'd be grateful for any tips on good supplements or habits from anyone.
I have cut back my running, from 3 times a week to 1 time a week. In order to get some energy back...
What kinds of food are you eating to get iron? I found this list that might be helpful:
Also, are you combining iron sources with vitamin C at the same time or at separate times? Some foods actually block iron absorption so just because you think you are getting iron-rich foods, you may not be absorbing them properly.
Thanks Vegetarian Runner.
I am basically eating everything on the "Nonheme Iron" list including lots of veggies, beans, tofu, etc and making sure to have Vitamin C with my meals. I've moved away from drinking coffee regularly with my breakfast since a nutritionist told me it would inhibit absorption. What about having Vit C along with coffee/tea while I eat an iron source? Make any difference? I want to learn more about how to fill my daily iron needs with a vegan lifestyle and maintain strength and energy to run half/full marathons.
Although I’m not anemic, my iron levels have always been low, even before I went veg (over 5 yrs, vegan 4 yrs), and continues to be low even thou I take quality supplements from my naturopath. For me it’s an absorption issue, not an intake issue. There are many things can affect absorption and I’m still trying to figure it out for myself. Most recently I’ve gone gluten-free to see how that might make a difference. I’ve read that running depletes minerals, incl iron, but you probably already know that. And so, I would suggest looking into mineral absorption issues. (I have a similar problem with calcium, although I refuse to take calcium supplements because I heard so many negative things about calcium pills.) Also, whenever I’ve changed anything with the intention of improving iron levels, my naturopath will test my blood 3 months later, so I guess it takes time before you will see results. Hope this helps! J
All the best!!!
I too have to watch my iron. Even when I was a little kid on the farm eating meat, my iron absorption is somehow not as high. So as a vegetarian for the last 16 or so yrs, plus I'm very active, I have to watch it. I used to donate blood every 4 months so I was doing something good and could monitor my iron levels!! But we moved to to town that only has a blood drive once a yr.
Anyhoo, I take Spirulina, and knock on wood, it keeps my levels up. My daughter also has this issue and we followed Dr.'s advice and gave her the iron medicines. They only worked temporarily and were so hard on her stoimach. I finally quit, gave her spirulina daily, and she has not had any more problems since.It's been a few yrs.
So I would suggest a Spirulina supplement...hope this helps :)