Dizzy on a Vegan Diet? (Vertigo or Light-Headed): 2 Causes


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  
Infection No  
Meniere’s disease No  
Migraines No  
Circulation problems No  
Neurological conditions No  
Medications 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.

Use a free tool like Cronometer to track your iron intake, if it’s on the low side, this could be a factor in your dizziness. It can also cause other symptoms like weakness or fatigue.

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
  • Beans

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:

  1. Eat it with vitamin C – Absorbic acid (vitamin C) increases the bioavailability of non-heme iron (study source).
  2. 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.

About the author

Dale Cudmore

Your friendly neighborhood vegan from Toronto. I've spent over 6 years as a freelance nutrition writer and researcher. During this time, I've tested over 50 vegan protein powders, and over 100 other types of vegan supplements.

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