Can switching to a vegan diet really make you dizzy or shaky?
That’s the question I wanted to answer.
The short answer is that yes, it’s possible, although it’s not too common.
Before I explain why, keep in mind that none of this is medical advice. If your dizziness is causing you pain, or you have any other symptoms, you need to see a doctor.
Which Dizziness Causes Can Be Affected By Veganism?
There are many things that can make you dizzy.
Based on the causes outlined by the Mayo Clinic, let’s go through them one-by-one and see if any can be related to a vegan diet.
|Cause of Dizziness||Veganism can affect?||Explanation|
|Low iron levels (anemia)||Yes||Iron can be harder to get and absorb on a vegan diet (more detail below).|
|Anxiety disorders||Maybe||If becoming vegan has increased your anxiety, it could explain your dizziness.|
|Inner ear problems||No|
|Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)||No|
|Low blood sugar||Possible|
|Overheating and dehydration||Possible||Maybe if you’ve also started exercising excessively.|
Most of these have nothing to do with a vegan diet. I’ve had vertigo a couple times before and after going vegan, and I’m sure it had nothing to do with diet.
If veganism is making you dizzy, it’s probably from either the iron levels or anxiety.
Let me explain how these could be affected by a vegan diet.
Vegan Diets and Low Iron Levels
Iron from animal products is mostly “heme” iron, which is easy to absorb.
Iron from plants is mostly “non-heme”, which is harder to absorb.
Not only is iron harder to get from plants, you need to eat more than an omnivore would.
If you do want to get more iron, you have 2 main options:
The best food sources are:
- Green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale
- Nuts and seeds
Improve Your Iron Absorption
What if you’re already eating enough iron?
One possibility is that you’re just not absorbing enough of it. There are 2 main ways to improve non-heme iron absorption:
- Eat it with vitamin C – Absorbic acid (vitamin C) increases the bioavailability of non-heme iron (study source).
- Soak your legumes – Soaking your beans improves the bioavailability of important nutrients like iron by reducing phytate levels (which bind to minerals like iron).
Veganism and Anxiety
You should have a pretty good idea if your anxiety has significantly increased because of your vegan diet.
While it’s not common, it’s possible to get anxiety as a result of being excluded from certain social events, or from worrying about whether or not someone will start an argument with you over veganism.
Unfortunately there’s no easy cure for anxiety of any kind. Self reflection, meditation, and seeing a therapist are different methods that are most likely to help.
When to See a Doctor
If you’re getting dizzy on a regular basis, you should see a doctor. It may have nothing to do with your diet at all.
At the very least, you can get a blood test to check your iron levels and other important nutrients.