I’m usually a very energetic person. I workout most mornings at home for 30-40 minutes, then spend the rest of the day keeping up with the demands of my kids and working on this blog and my Instagram account. I usually walk everywhere I go, and with having to do the school run, I’m walking for at least one hour every day. Of course, I’m shattered by the end of the day, but after a good night’s sleep, I’m usually ready to repeat it all again.
Around four months ago, I noticed that something was off. Regardless of how much sleep I was getting at night, I was always tired. My answer to ‘how are you, Somi’ was always ‘tired’. I had naps every afternoon without fail, but I seemed to be getting more tired with each passing day. When I spoke to my mum about it, she concluded that I wasn’t eating enough.
I knew I was, but considering that I have an active lifestyle, I thought she could be right. Afterall mums know best. I don’t count macros or track calories; I often eat according to my hunger levels. Some days I eat a lot more than usual, and other days I eat a lot less. There was a possibility that I could have been eating a lot less than I needed without realising so I thought I’ll purposely overeat to see if my energy levels would get better. That didn’t work out too well because I felt extremely stuffed and still no energy. I suspended trying to figure out what was going on and put it down to me needing an extended holiday.
I’ve been lifting weights consistently since September 2017. Over time, my strength has increased quite significantly. I’ve gone from only being able to curl 5lb weights to curling 15lbs as of April 2018. I also progressed with lunges, going from 8lbs to 25lbs as of April 2018. In May, I began to notice that I couldn’t complete most exercises with weights that I would typically use. Every exercise session, I needed a lighter weight than what I had used in the previous session. It didn’t make sense, and that was when I knew something was wrong.
I was also finding it incredibly challenging to push my daughter around in her stroller. First, I thought she had a growth spurt and gained weight. Then, my knees started to hurt every time I tried to squat or bend to pick something off the floor. I was snapping at minor things, questioning my existence and beginning to feel very sad about life in general.
Just like everyone else, I have moments when I feel down, but it is unusual for me to feel down for more than a day or two at the maximum. I always find a way to pick myself up, whether it is by talking to my husband, mum or just focusing on the things that matter. For whatever reason, I couldn’t shake the cloud that was desperate to take over my life permanently. It was when I started feeling low, and my knees started hurting that I thought perhaps I needed to make sure everything was okay with me internally.
The last blood test I did was in 2015, just after I had my daughter and around six months before I started eating a plant-based diet. At that point, my vital stats, vitamin and mineral levels were all normal. Considering I have been eating no animal products or by-products for the last 27 months, I figured I was overdue a blood test anyway.
I called my General Practioner’s (GP’s) office to book an appointment for the blood test, but the assistant I spoke to advised that I would have to talk with a doctor as I couldn’t book one without it being signed off by a doctor first. I scheduled a telephone appointment with my doctor, during which I explained my plant-based diet and the symptoms I had been experiencing in detail. Thankfully, she agreed that I needed a blood test, and also suggested I had extra tests done to check my thyroid function. She scheduled a full test to check B12 (which I thought could be the culprit since I have not been consistent with supplements), iron, zinc, thyroxine, vitamin D, calcium, white and red cell count.
My results were ready five days after my appointment. I called the GP surgery and the nurse let me know that my results came back normal. I was really excited and even made an IGTV video about my experience. Despite my results being normal, I was still feeling tired and I still had the pain in my knees. I intended to book another appointment with GP to discuss my ongoing symptoms, but a couple of days before I got round to it, I got a phone call from the GP informing me that one of my results were not good. It turns out that my vitamin D levels were extremely low. My GP explained that my low vitamin D levels could be the cause of the symptoms I was experiencing. She also let me know that my white cell count was low and I would need to have another test done.
She explained that people of colour usually have lower white cell counts than Caucasians and it could be that they had judged my levels against Caucasians or that I was fighting an infection. Either way, both things needed to be ruled out.
Update: Thankfully, I got my white cell count results back last week and they’re normal.
In the meantime, she prescribed that I take one Fultium-D3 20,000iu (equivalent to 500mg) capsule weekly. I will get another blood test after seven weeks to check if my levels are normal.
Living in England where we rarely have sunlight has most likely contributed to my vitamin D levels falling low. But, prior to going plant-based my levels were fine. I have made a point to eat as many vitamin-D fortified foods like plant-based milk, yoghurt and mushrooms. Despite all that I still fell short. This is a prime example of why I think it is very necessary that we all do what works best for our individual bodies. Many of the plant-based doctors I follow say it is not necessary to take vitamin D supplements because you can get enough from food. This has not worked out for me, so I may need to keep supplementing to prevent this happening in future.
Do you take multivitamin supplements or are you team whole foods only?