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I'm addicted to running. My blood levels are good except for my iron, but I've always had low iron. I know if my iron is too low. I've recently thought about going raw vegan (right now I'm Rawtill4), but my parents won't allow it. I'm really lost, because I'm also wondering if it's such a good idea. As a seventeen year old who can't go a day without running, has low iron, and worries about calcium intake, how do I do it? Should I wait to go raw, and how much will I need to eat if I'm running seven plus miles a day? (I'm training to be an ultra runner, so sometimes it's fourteen miles once or twice a week and moving up)?

Responses (5)

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    Posted by ahimsa32fa at 01/18/16 07:12:41


    Get a good book on vegan nutrition from your local library.

    Iron is utilized best when taken with vitamin C foods. As you probably know, many greens are rich in iron as are many nuts and seeds.

    Calcium is probably the easiest of all nutrients to obtain. A large fresh salad with a variety of colored plant foods is an everyday must for me. Today it will include lettuce, tomato, cucumber, spinach, arugula, red bell pepper, parsley and home-made salad dressings that usually made with flax or hemp oil and various seasonings.

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    Posted by KennethJohnson at 04/15/17 09:40:23

    Keep on moving.

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    Posted by Star the magic vegan at 04/16/17 01:27:36

    Because you are under 18 years of age, please have your parents read this first before you do to see if it is acceptable information for your family.

    As far as iron is concerned, most women have this problem due to menstruation. Some people are anemic which is a medical condition.

    There are key vegetables that are high in iron: Squash, pumpkin seeds, nuts (Cashew, Pine, Hazelnut, Peanut, Almond), beans and pulses (Soybeans, Lentils, Kidney beans, Garbanzo beans (Chickpeas), and Lima beans, Navy, Black Beans, Pinto, and Black-eyed Peas), White bread (enriched), Whole wheat bread, Enriched pasta, Wheat products, Bran cereals, Corn meal, Oat cereal, Rye bread, Enriched rice, Strawberries, Watermelon, Raisins, Dates, Figs, Prunes, Prune juice, Dried apricots, Dried peaches,Tofu, Tomato products (e.g., paste), Dried peas, Corn syrup, Maple syrup, Molasses, spinach, legumes, Quinoa, Broccoli, Dark Chocolate, morel mushrooms, Dried Apricots, olives, asparagus, mulberries, beans, peas, coconut, arugula, leeks, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, Tahini, Thyme, Brown Rice, Oatmeal, potatoes, sun dried tomatoes, Kale, sunflower seeds...

    Don't worry about calcium intake. It has been shown that calcium pills and milk and too much calcium actually reduces bone density. If you do not have a medical problem with calcium, do not create one by introducing artificial levels in your diet. Eat Kale, Collard greens, Turnip greens, Arugula, spinach, watercress, Mustard greens, Rapini, beet greens, Pak Choi, okra, spring onions, leeks, Swiss chard, endives, snap peas, fennel, butternut squash, cabbage, broccoli and artichokes, rutabagas, parsnips, Brussels sprouts, sweet potato, celery, turnips, carrots, lettuce...These foods are calcium rich.

    People think they need pills. You do not need pill supplements for iron and calcium. Learn your bio-cycles with relation to menstruation. There will be days when you need iron and or calcium and there will be days when this is unimportant. For example, have iron rich foods 7 days before menstruating, during menstruation and for 7 days after. If you are anemic, juice these during those times and eat them regularly all the time.

    The only supplements a vegan needs are vitamin B12 found in nutritional yeast or sublingual synthetic drops and Vitamin D3 found vegan in "plant based D3" at puritan's Nothing else is necessary.

    In terms of raw, the main thing is to be vegan. I am under thrilled with the raw aspect of a vegan diet. Raw, fruitarian, antiseptic, NOGO, no spice and breatharian are specialty vegan diets that do not really hold much sway. Some people try to make it a big deal, but in truth these are diets for temporary medical purposes. You might go raw one month before a big tournament. Doing them permanently only drives you fanatically neurotic. It will also deprive you of many important foods. There is no status in being raw. Being vegan is the normal diet for humans.

    Of the above foods I have listed, there are many that are both iron rich and calcium rich. I would emphasize the ones that fit into both categories. These lists are not complete. My favorite above all the others is Molasses. Everyone should have one spoon of Molasses a day! I also want to give special notice to watercress. Watercress is so high in easily digestible, absorbable vitamins that one derives vitamins simply by rubbing the leaves.

    If you are anemic, I suggest you see a state licensed medical herbaist. There are Western Herbalists which I like best, Traditional Chinese Herbalists and Ayurvedic Herbalists. You will learn a lot and they can cure you. You can also get recommendations for sports augmentation therapy. Herbs do not only cure but are filled with concentrated levels of iron, calcium and vitamins. They make you feel good and should taste good too.

    Also, UCI has found recently in research that Green Tea and Tea in general lowers iron levels in fruit flies. Stay away from tea.

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    Posted by Star the magic vegan at 04/16/17 05:18:14

    Here are a couple of other things so please have your parents review them before you read them.

    1. Dates. Dates have potassium and are high in iron. You need potassium for your heart. Bananas also have potassium. Bananas and dates with other fresh fruit is a wonderful breakfast with a little vegan bread. This is what I eat every morning.

    2. Running can impair the fertility of women. Usually it is temporary but it can become permanent. You will have to do your own research. It has to do with compressing the reproductive organs through the physical act of running and the hitting of the feet on the ground in a repetitive manner. You can also ask a sports medicine doctor, a fertility doctor and a general medicine doctor if they are well read on the topic.

    3. I mentioned to have strong juices while menstruating. I forgot that women often get noxious or at least sensitive with dietary considerations at that time of the month. Perhaps juicing is better after periods.

    4. If you see an herbalist, tell them you are vegan and you want all remedies to be vegan. You will have no trouble with Western Herbalists. TCM and Ayurvedic medicine can employ non vegan means as do homeopaths.

    5. I really do not see any advantage of eating raw before a tournament unless it is because you have been running so much in preparation it has thrown your digestion off or you want lighter food. Most raw foodians eat only 75% raw. You end up eating much more bulk and fiber as a raw foodist. Also, it dispermits much starch. Starch is what keeps away diarrhea, a given if all you eat are fruits and veggies. You can not suffer from diarrhea if you are running.

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    Posted by Robinwomb at 04/16/17 12:01:29

    As a seventeen year old athlete, you are going to need to eat a LOT to get your nutritional needs met. I remember many years ago I was training to be a dancer, putting in 22 hours a week of training. I wasn't even a vegan then, and I remember eating a TON and still didn't get my first period until I was sixteen. I also suffer with osteoporosis now (diagnosed as an omni in 2006 for a variety of reasons, but lack of menstruation was one major one) so I understand the importance of bone building minerals for your body and being a healthy weight as well. Not just calcium, but magnesium, vitamin D, vitamin K etc.

    Low oxalate leafy greens are full of bone building minerals. Bok choy, kale, collards, romaine lettuce, turnip greens, dandelion leaves are a few of them. But you need to eat a lot of them to meet your daily needs. At least five or more cups per day. If you are active with running, it would be hard to fit in tons of salads, so smoothies/green drinks would be your next best bet.

    Almonds, sesame seeds, chia seeds, figs, oranges are also good sources of calcium and other bone building minerals. Nuts and seeds are excellent sources of iron as well, and high vitamin C foods like strawberries, bell peppers, and oranges can help with absorption. There are supplements that can help meet your needs as well, some of which are raw/plant based etc. The main thing is to eat enough to fuel all your activity, and maintain a healthy weight. Supplement some of that running with resistance exercises that load the bones, such as Pilates, or weight lifting.

    I am not raw, but have been vegan for six years, and I find even with eating cooked foods I work hard to get enough calcium every day in my diet. I do drink fortified plant milks, or make my own and add calcium powder and liquid vegan D3. I eat white beans and other beans with a higher calcium content, and all the foods I mentioned above, and tofu with calcium sulfate in it. I eat a minimum of two cups of leafy greens per day, sometimes more. Because I am in surgical menopause and have long standing thyroid issues for 28 years, rebuilding all the bone density I lost over the years has been an incredibly challenging effort, and I did eventually have to resort to medication and supplements in addition to diet and exercise and maintaining a healthy weight (I was underweight for six years but gained a lot of weight to get healthy a few years ago) in order to increase my bone density. Osteoporosis is a terrible disease, very painful and debilitating, and it doesn't just happen to older women. I was diagnosed at 34 years of age (I am 44 now). I had a stress fracture in my pelvic in 2012 from running five miles a day with a low bmi and not eating enough. I was barely able to walk for two months. My DXA score in 2014 after years of ignoring my disease was -3.8 and my bones hurt all the time. With help and a lot of hard work I have gotten that score up to -2.5 but I still can not do a lot of the things I used to. I suffer with chronic low back issues and am working with a physical therapist now to figure out what I can safely do because I am VERY active but have suffered injuries to my rib area and low back.

    You are at a crucial age for building bones and I think it is very wise that you are doing some research on this. Going raw may be doable and CAN be very healthy, but it will require a lot of effort and diligence to get your nutritional needs met. The number one priority is to make sure you eat enough, maintain a healthy weight and menstruation (your hormones are key players in bone health and getting calcium, D, etc into your bones). Include bone building activities, not just running. You may want to track your nutrients with some sort of database/nutrition tracker online to ensure you are getting enough important minerals. Raw food can often be very filling and you may feel full long before you have eaten enough. Doing things like pureeing, blending, or eating many small meals throughout the day may help ensure you eat enough without causing havoc on your digestion. I did do all raw for short periods a few times but I had a terrible time with fullness and needing to poop up to five times a day which can make it difficult for endurance sport activities. I had to learn to time my snacks and meals around exercise and work, and when to prepare everything, and how often to go to the store, farmers markets, tend my garden etc as I as also working and going to school.

    Best wishes!

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