Monday, February 28, 2011
A Cautionary Tale...
Thank you for the birthday wishes for Tony! He had a great birthday. Funny how as you get older, the definition of a good birthday is relaxing and cooking. We cooked dinner together and he played games with the boys all night. He really deserved the down time.

I have a little update on my health that I wanted to talk about. I feel like what I am going through is important so I want to share, however, I am a little worried that I will get judged for it, so please, be kind. This is why I blog in the first place. We all learn from others personal accounts wether it be food, fitness, health or life. As you all know, my family eats meat. I, however, do not. This is a choice I made years ago (actually the first time was in high school -my parents did not approve- and then 3 years ago as an adult). My site is not about meat free eating, so I never made it a huge deal (besides, it's not a big deal). I have always been saddened by the killing of animals for food, but I have a complete understanding for those that do chose to eat meat. I understand that there are basic nutritional needs that we get from eating animal products. Tony and I talk a lot about food, where it comes from, what it does for us, why we eat it...these are subjects that interest both of us, so it is a great topic around here. Anyway, I am a food person, so the history of food is of huge interest to me.

Over the past year, we have evolved into a mostly vegetarian family with meat being served (to all three boys in the house) for only a few meals during the week. We eat a good amount of eggs here and the boys do eat cheese and drink milk. I have been diligent at making sure I get the proper amount of proteins and carbohydrates everyday to fuel me. I am an avid exerciser and I love feeling healthy due to my diet and exercise. I have a family history of colon cancer and heart disease, so a meat free lifestyle that is high in fiber is supposed to be healthier, right? However, one thing that I lost track of is my vitamin intake. I do take multi vitamins along with calcium (since I can't have dairy), oil of primrose (which makes me feel great) and acidophilus for a healthy gut. Do you see what I am missing? My B12 vitamin. Yep, it's low and now I have some mild anemia. I knew when I went vegetarian that I needed to make sure I got them from other sources than meat, so I took a B supplement. Well, they were making me nauseous (I'm guessing because I had enough stored up already) and I had a bad experience with nutritional yeast (which I have recently discovered a love for), so I steered clear of both of these. I used to be a hoarder of cereal (in fact I was always munching on some cereal everywhere I went), but in my attempt to get away from processed foods, I stopped eating it as much. Most cereals are fortified with B vitamins. So, here I am sick from a lack of vitamins. My symptoms are dead on with it too...dizziness, balance issues (I've had these my whole life, so I don't know that I would blame this completely on the lack of B12), headaches, nausea, fatigue, tingling in the appendages (my fingers have started to lose some circulation and turn white when I am cold), I'm sure there are more, but I think you get the point. I'm guessing that I was low to begin with and then the stomach bug I got a month ago sent me over the top. I have taken 10 days worth of antibiotics to clean things up and I am now working on my diet. I have some major moral dilemmas going on in my head right now that I need to work on and I am horribly frustrated to say the least.

The bright side is that I have learned something important before it got bad. This is manageable and not the worst thing that could happen to me...trust me, I have had worse. I feel like, a lot of times, we don't talk about the things that can be embarrassing or that we can get judged for, but I think it's important to share the good, the bad and the ugly so we can learn from each other. I hope, if nothing else, this has helped someone else that doesn't eat meat or animal products be more aware that these vitamins are important for everyday health.

I have started including A LOT of B12 in my diet the past few days and today, I actually feel better!


One thing that I discovered is that the B12 is in the yolks of the eggs...which I have laid off of for awhile because I prefer egg white omelets. This was two over easy eggs served on my veggie based pasta sauce...


served with two nutritional yeast savory waffles for dipping!


I could eat this everyday!


So, I want to know, do you think about all of the nutrients when you eat? I am an everything in moderation person. I eat sweets, I eat savory, but I do focus on making sure I get the good stuff. Those of you out there that don't eat meat or dairy, how do you get your B12?

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posted by Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen @ 12:20 PM  
44 Comments:
  • At February 28, 2011 at 12:25 PM, Blogger C and C Young said…

    I get B12 shots. Sucks getting them weekly, but you do what ya gotta do.

     
  • At February 28, 2011 at 12:30 PM, Anonymous Amy B @ Second City Randomness said…

    No judgement whatsoever! I feel that things like people's diets are a constantly evolving thing. Because I don't eat fruit, I have to make sure everything else is well balanced (including extra veggies to make up for it) so that I get a proper amount of things such as Vitamin C, etc.

    Also, being as how meat isn't in my daily eating schedule, I have to be aware that I'm getting other sources of it in on days that are meatless. Otherwise, I seem to get fatigued much quicker.

    I'm glad you've spotted the issue and are taking steps to correct it!

    Have a good Monday, Sarena!

     
  • At February 28, 2011 at 12:31 PM, Anonymous Heather (Where's the Beach) said…

    I do try to pay close attention to my nutrition - especially since I am also an avid exerciser and lift fairly heavy weights. Protein is a huge one for me. I also take multi-vitamins and a B vitamin. I try to use nutritional yeast often. I wish I could offer some advice, but I will say that you have to do what is right for your health and your body.

     
  • At February 28, 2011 at 12:37 PM, Blogger AnaRoo said…

    Wow! I am so grateful you posted this. Odd ailments and symptoms I have been experiencing mimic yours. I just did a mental check list and sure enough I can 99.9% guarentee I am too low on B12. You just saved me a Drs bill and now I am off to make myself feel better. Egg yolks anyone?!?!

     
  • At February 28, 2011 at 12:40 PM, Blogger Heather said…

    Oh, hon, I feel you. I never cared too much about this until the past year. I've recently added chicken back into my diet for protein purposes and I've been feeling great! No judgement up here in Cleveland! :)

     
  • At February 28, 2011 at 12:41 PM, Blogger Nobel4Lit said…

    I have no judgement whatsoever. I mean, I think one of the main things that would help with the animal slaughtering issue is if people stopped subsisting on their steaks and burgers and meat-eating contests.

    If you need animal sources of nutrition without terribly expensive, nauseating, or inconvenient means, I say that the occasional consumption of animal by-products is warranted.

     
  • At February 28, 2011 at 12:44 PM, Blogger Alayna said…

    I think it's great that you posted this. People need to know what starts to happen to your body when you're B12 deficient so that they can spot it for themselves. I take a vegetarian B12 vitamin about once a week since I'm still eating enough meat to not have to really worry about deficiencies too much yet. I'm really glad that you're starting out by addressing your problem with food, rather than pills though.

     
  • At February 28, 2011 at 12:51 PM, Anonymous Kristina @ spabettie said…

    I have not always been great at taking supplements (it's a constant that I strive for!) but I do get vitamin IV one or two times weekly - we've gotten down to a science, I go in, the lab tech inserts the line, hands me the (big) needle and I push. 20 minutes in-out, and he's a friend so we chat, listen to music... I love them, they energize me!!

    no judgement here, I hope the new changes will have you feeling better and can put you at ease. ...and a GREAT argument for egg yolks! :)

     
  • At February 28, 2011 at 12:58 PM, Anonymous Estela @ Weekly Bite said…

    Thanks for sharing this Sarena! Glad you hear you're on your way to feeling better :)

    I eat everything in moderation and try to balance things out. I don't take a B12 supplement, but do take a multivitamin.

     
  • At February 28, 2011 at 1:13 PM, Anonymous Jess@HealthyExposures said…

    Thank you, again, for deciding to share this with us. It's true - we only learn from mistakes, whether ours or others. For your sake I wish it weren't true - but as you said, I imagine there is so much worse that could happen, especially if you let it continue.
    When I read that you still take your multi but weren't getting your B's from it I rushed to check out mine and to my relief, they do. So that's one source that I NEED to be more diligent about! (and I had a mac and "cheese" with nooch last night thanks to you ;) )

     
  • At February 28, 2011 at 1:34 PM, Blogger Becca said…

    Oh wow - is that why I haven't felt good lately? I am a forced gluten free, non-dairy vegetarian, and have cut out eggs this last month as I have been trying an elimination diet. I have completely overlooked B12!!! I am off to eat an egg for lunch. Thanks so much for the heads up, and for your amazing blog which has helped me so much!

     
  • At February 28, 2011 at 1:58 PM, Blogger Emily said…

    Thank you for sharing what's been going on Sarena! It is an important subject - especially for vegetarians, as you said. I'm glad that it didn't get worse and that you are working on getting all back in order. I do sometimes worry that I may be missing certain nutrients - maybe I should pay more attention (and finally try nutritional yeast!).

    Hang in there and feel better soon, lady.

     
  • At February 28, 2011 at 2:02 PM, Blogger Liz Dean said…

    I have to get the shots as well. I have what is called pernicious anemia, which means the B12 is not absorbed in my intestines like it should be, so no matter how much I take orally, it won't be absorbed. The shots aren't bad though, I just give them to myself!

     
  • At February 28, 2011 at 2:17 PM, Anonymous J3nn (Jenn's Menu and Lifestyle Blog) said…

    B vitamins make me nauseas, too! Glad you are feeling better and liking nutritional yeast!! I find it to be very yummy, especially blended with cooked beans.

    I'm all about moderation, too, but I also want the most nutrition out of the majority of foods I eat.

    I struggle with my love for animals and eating them. It's hard at times. If you ever consider adding fish oil into your diet, krill or salmon, I think it would offer a lot of benefits as a supplement to an overall balanced diet.

    Feel better!

     
  • At February 28, 2011 at 2:20 PM, Anonymous Susie said…

    I do eat eggs, I raise my own chickens so have healthy eggs available at all times, also use nutritioanal yeast and take a multi with b12 in it.

     
  • At February 28, 2011 at 2:21 PM, Blogger Rose said…

    I have a stack of vitamins I really need to get back in the habit of taking. I know I need to up my calcium, too, since I don't eat dairy either.

     
  • At February 28, 2011 at 2:37 PM, Blogger Megan said…

    No judgement at all, and I appreciate you being open enough to share.

    I know that I am not as aware of my vitamin situation as I should be. I just assume that since I take a multi vitamin, everything is covered, when in fact that's not true.

    Good for you for making the dietary changes necessary to take care of your health!

     
  • At February 28, 2011 at 4:04 PM, Anonymous Anna @ Newlywed, Newly Veg said…

    I'm so sorry to hear that you're having to go through this-- I know how frustrating it must be for you :-(

    Honestly, I probably don't pay as much attention to vitamins and macro-nutrients as I should. I have a B12 supplement, but I only remember to take it every five days or so.

     
  • At February 28, 2011 at 4:14 PM, Anonymous Tina @ Faith Fitness Fun said…

    Glad you figured out what had you feeling off and hopefully you will be back to normal asap. I know you will do what it takes to care for yourself without sacrificing what you believe as well. Hugs!

     
  • At February 28, 2011 at 4:29 PM, Anonymous Christin@purplebirdblog said…

    Finding out what is going on is always such a huge relief though... you'll be back on track in no time! I love egg yolks... can't get enough of em. And nooch waffles... you're my hero! :D

     
  • At February 28, 2011 at 4:37 PM, Anonymous MelissaNibbles said…

    I'm glad you're feeling better. I think we're so lucky to live in a country where we can choose not to eat meat. There are millions who have no choice in what they eat and make do with what is there. Eat what is good for your body and keeps you healthy Sarena. I know you have moral issues, but your health is more important for you and your family. Good luck!

     
  • At February 28, 2011 at 7:13 PM, Anonymous Pure2raw Twins said…

    Glad you are taking the right steps for your health and eating things that make you feel great :) I hope your vitamin b-12 gets better. Michelle and I feel our b's are low, right now all we do is have nutritional yeast and have a b-12 patch we were a few times a week. But no real difference yet, we hope to share more tomorrow on our blog. HUGS

     
  • At February 28, 2011 at 7:13 PM, OpenID eatliveaustin said…

    The funny thing is I feel like I get plenty of B vitamins from drinking Red Bull and XS (the Amway brand that has waaay more B vitamins than Red Bull).

    I'm not chugging these all the time, just once in a while, so I don't actually rely on them, though.

    Good luck!

    Sarah

     
  • At February 28, 2011 at 7:24 PM, Blogger Fallon said…

    I was getting worried how you have been feeling ill for a while. I'm glad you found the problem before it got worst and hopefully you will recover much faster!

    I haven't been to a doctor for my problems but I experience being really cold at times where everyone is really hot, I lose feeling in my arms and fingers (circulation) and sometimes I feel weak.. headache, nausea etc. I always thought it was before I had low iron levels. I hear munching on ice can mean this and I tend to much on ice.. But besides all that I always knew my body needed red meat. So I try to consume red meat at least 1-2 times week. I feel amazing and have more energy. So when I start losing my circulation in my arm or fingers, I know it is time for have some meat for dinner.

    I tried to do a vegetarian base diet, which is simple and delicious.. but I was lacking on certain minerals and vitamins. So like you said everything in moderation. Luckily my food palate is very diversified and I like to eat all kinds of food, prepared in different ways!

     
  • At February 28, 2011 at 7:46 PM, Anonymous Lauren @ Spiced Plate said…

    Totally no judgement at all! I definitely think about the nutrition that goes into my meals, and usually adjust what I make for dinner to make sure that I've gotten everything I need. I take a B complex vitamin for days when I know I didn't get enough B-12, and flax seed oil if I feel like I didn't eat enough fats. I also take chlorella for iron. I try to have these supplements only as needed and not every day. As a gluten free, non dairy, non processed food vegetarian, it's so important to think about. I have been on - and -off anemic since I was super young, and recently tested negative for anemia, which made me happy!
    Hang in there, make those little adjustments, and I'm sure you'll feel better in no time. I hope you feel better soo, Sarena!

     
  • At February 28, 2011 at 7:59 PM, Anonymous Kate (What Kate is Cooking) said…

    I know I should think about getting B12, but I never remember to eat things that contain it!

     
  • At February 28, 2011 at 8:19 PM, Blogger Nicole said…

    I read this post during the day but I didn't have time to comment. THank you for sharing this with us..there is no judgement what so ever. You do what you need to do to be healthy and feel your best!! <3

     
  • At February 28, 2011 at 8:35 PM, Anonymous lee said…

    My hands get blue and the fingers get whitish when I'm cold. I always assumed it was Raynaud's but maybe it's a lack of B12. I should probably ask the doctor about that. Especially since I self diagnosed myself with Raynaud's in the first place!

     
  • At February 28, 2011 at 10:18 PM, Blogger SLColman said…

    Glad that you figured out what was going on! I hope that you are able to keep up with the vitamins :)

     
  • At February 28, 2011 at 10:34 PM, Blogger Heather McD (Heather Eats Almond Butter) said…

    My B12 levels got really low about 2 years ago. I wasn't eating a lot of animal products and my doctor put me on a high dose of B12 drops. I could not believe the difference they made - it was almost immediate. I would drag drag drag every afternoon, and all of a sudden I had so much energy. Now I make sure to include plenty of foods rich in B12 in my diet, and I feel soooo much better. I figure it's something that my body needs to function properly, and now I try to get it from my food rather than rely on vitamins and supplements.

     
  • At February 28, 2011 at 10:35 PM, Blogger Heather McD (Heather Eats Almond Butter) said…

    P.S. Happy belated to Tony! :)

     
  • At February 28, 2011 at 10:37 PM, Blogger LifeasKristina said…

    I've never gotten the shot but I do take B12 supplements!

     
  • At February 28, 2011 at 11:57 PM, Anonymous Courtney (Pancakes and Postcards) said…

    I should take supplements too. I have been thinking about nutrients a TON more lately because I gave up eating meat a few months ago. I'm starting to wonder if it IS the right choice for me because despite making a concerted effort to get adequate protein I don't feel as good on this diet.

     
  • At March 1, 2011 at 1:46 AM, Anonymous Rachel @ Grateful Girl Goes Gluten Free said…

    I have been having stomach issues for 5ish years and I'm recently discovering what I need to do. I just had a blood test done while at the gastro clinic. Today I found out my ferritin (iron) levels are extremely low and in the abnormal range. My doctors only note on the test was "Labs look good." So I'm trying to figure out the right vitamins and supplements I need for myself also. Thanks for sharing your story! I used to take B12 daily and totally forgot about it until now!

     
  • At March 1, 2011 at 5:45 AM, Anonymous Averie said…

    So glad you figured out what was going on, Sarena. And so sorry your health has been suffering but so happy you have corrected the problem and identified it...that's half the battle, right there.

    Here's to you doing what's right for you, right now, amen sista.

     
  • At March 1, 2011 at 7:55 AM, Anonymous Madeline - Greens and Jeans said…

    Zero judgment! I was a vegetarian for about 8 years before I started getting sick for a whole slew of reasons, and it was basically because I wasn't keeping track of what my body actually NEEDED to eat. After a lot of soul searching I decided the best thing for ME would be to start eating meat again. It was a tough choice, but I know it was the right thing for me to do at the time and my body is a lot happier for it.

     
  • At March 1, 2011 at 10:38 AM, Anonymous Ina said…

    Sarena - thanks for sharing this. I too went through some similar experiences a few years ago, when I went Vegetarian. I was also teaching Yoga 6 days a week, on top of my own practice. Then one day, I could smell a bbq happening at the neighbours. My mouth started to water....I returned to eating meat and have never felt better. My body clearly showed me that a Vegetarian diet was not working for me. Now having said that, we only eat farm raised, antibiotic hormone free meat. We also include at least 3 Vegetarian meals a week. So far this has worked out well for me, three years later. We all need to find out works for our own bodies - good luck!

     
  • At March 1, 2011 at 1:21 PM, Anonymous Alisa Fleming said…

    I'm just happy that you figured out the problem and feel better!!!

     
  • At March 1, 2011 at 1:39 PM, Anonymous Holly @ couchpotatoathlete said…

    Sorry to hear about the issues you are going through - and no judgments here at all!

    To be honest I don't pay enough attention to the nutrition I get -- I need to.

     
  • At March 1, 2011 at 2:56 PM, Blogger Lisa said…

    I definitely think about nutrients in every meal. But...I'm a nutrition teacher and wellness coach, and am trying to balance a lot of my health issues with food. I add nutritional yeast to a lot of things...and don't otherwise worry about B12 so much. I do have supplements of it in my cupboard though. Not so much a fan of taking them---I tend to see them sitting there and then remember to eat more nutritional yeast!

    I think everyone has to figure out what combo of food and supplements work best for them to feel the best---the fact that you're figuring it out (even though it may seem like it's taking a while) is awesome!

     
  • At March 1, 2011 at 4:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This is an important part of special diets- it's good you included it.
    Also I know you're also the budget queen, but if the egg yolks' taste is what puts you off them- the vegetarian fed and/or organic eggs taste a lot better. Also there seems to be less sulfur in them. (Take that where you want to. :) )
    Cat Story

     
  • At March 4, 2011 at 9:13 PM, Anonymous Lauren @ Spiced Plate said…

    Sarena -- RE: my post on supplements --Making that post made me think of you and how you're super on top of knowing where to get the nutrients you need!

     
  • At March 5, 2011 at 8:35 PM, Blogger moonsword said…

    I'm a vegan so I make sure to take B-complex supplements daily. I usually use a liquid or sublingual tablets because pernicious anemia runs in my family. According to the Linus Pauling Institute, "high-dose oral therapy is considered to be as effective as intramuscular injection". You can read more here http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/vitamins/vitaminB12/
    I hope that helps...all the best to you!

     
  • At March 7, 2011 at 4:38 PM, Blogger Jack said…

    Chances are the calcium supplement you are taking now is a rock source of calcium. The label will say "calcium carbonate", which is nothing more than limestone. AlgaeCal Plus contains an organic, plant-sourced calcium form derived from a unique South American marine algae called Algas Calcareas™.

     
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Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen
Home: Atlanta, GA, United States
About Me: Lactose Challenged
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