Why I Wish I Would Have Supplemented BEFORE Deficiency

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My introduction to the raw food diet came as part of my eating disorder recovery process.  Having badly abused my body for fifteen years, I needed to find a new way of eating—a way to unselfishly nourish my body—and a friend introduced me to raw food.

I tried many approaches to raw food healing, but did not find any that seemed a “fit” for my body (with type 1 diabetes and epilepsy) until I read about and tried a low-fat, fruit-based version, coupled with Natural Hygiene.  My mind, body, and spirit agreed that this was to be my path.  It seemed a beautiful way to live—I was quite happy to go without vitamins or pills, and let Nature do its healing work.

My transition was quite rough, but when I finally found a good source of online support, I committed myself to following this lifestyle.  Having read about the detrimental effect of fats on diabetes, I chose to eat “better than” low-fat—I would avoid ALL overt fats.

Unfortunately, one month into my new lifestyle commitment, I began to experience extreme exhaustion.  The bottom fell out from under me when I spent three days in bed, unable to stand up without trembling.  Scared to death, I consulted with fruit-based raw food leaders, who encouraged me to rest a lot, exercise as I could, stick to the diet, and look into B12.  A random person online suggested checking my vitamin D levels.

We dished out the money to get a boatload of blood tests done at an integrative doctor.  The results were: low B12 and a vitamin D deficiency.  I began to address these issues right away.  B12 rose quite quickly when I began supplementing.  D took MUCH longer.

In the turmoil of my health crisis, I quit my job and spent the next six months lying on the couch, trying to function, but unable to do much more than lie there, eat some bananas, and then lie down again.  When I finally started to feel like a human being again (as D levels increased), I started trying to re-build my health and fitness.  It was extremely difficult.  I was starting from ground zero.

Once my D level was finally into the optimal range, I discovered I was unable to keep it there without using a D3 supplement, so I continued to take one.  Almost two years into my D deficiency recovery process, I was starting to feel a lot better, but still felt exhausted and ready to faint if I didn’t get at least twelve hours of sleep…more if I was active during the day.

A raw foodist who watched my “Two Year Fruit & Diabetes” video contacted me with the suggestion that I might be deficient in omega-3 fatty acids.  After further discussion, research, and experimentation, I began a daily supplement of chia, hemp, and Udo’s omega-3-6-9 oil (which I used temporarily to try to restore my EFA levels more quickly).

Once I began the EFA supplements, I noticed overnight improvement, and several strange symptoms I had been experiencing resolved in a matter of weeks.  I began to feel progressively healthier.

I had been taking a high-quality multi-vitamin for a period of months, but decided to also add in Just Barley greens supplement, at the suggestion of a “reality-based” raw food educator.  When I began taking this on a regular basis, I felt amazed that my intense cravings for greens (despite eating one to three pounds of greens per day) went away.  Apparently, I had been mineral deficient as well.

Feeling continual improvement with the supplements of D3, B12, high-quality multi-vitamin, Just Barley greens supplement, chia, and hemp, I still was having trouble losing weight and not as energetic as others seemed to be on a fruit-based raw diet.  The wife of another long-term raw food educator suggested I might be iodine deficient (she had seen it on a lot of raw vegan blood profiles).

I followed up with the reality-based educator for iodine testing, and learned that I had a moderate iodine deficiency.  I then commenced therapeutic iodine supplementation–supervised, which is extremely important with iodine.  I have only just begun—it will take years to reverse the damage done by my deficiency.  I am very much hoping this will be the last one I will need to address.

The point of sharing this is to inform readers that even on an optimal diet of raw fruits and veggies, deficiencies can still happen.  When I stopped eating the processed foods, I stopped getting the added fortification that was keeping me from having problems, despite my poor eating habits for years and years.

Although we should be able to get everything we need for optimal health from our food (according to Natural Hygiene), the reality is that we no longer live in a perfect world.  Soils are depleted, poor agricultural practices are used, produce is picked for shipping before ripening, environmental toxins abound, and most of us have not had lives of perfectly healthy lifestyle practices.  All of these contribute to bodies that, I now believe, will not be able to get all the nutrition that is needed for optimal health simply from raw fruits and veggies.

Some people following an unsupplemented fruit-based raw food lifestyle seem to not develop problems as quickly as I did.  From my research and talking with other reality-based raw foodists, however, I believe it will be only a matter of time before they do.  Those who do run into problems tend to return to their former diets in an attempt to resolve their health issues.

My three years on a fruit-based raw food diet have been spent, minus the first month, struggling with worse health problems than I ever experienced on a cooked food diet.  I have had many health improvements indeed…but the problems have rather outweighed the positives, in terms of my ability to function well, much less thrive.

Recovery from deficiencies, especially vitamin D and iodine, can take a very long time.  Even attaining “normal” (sufficient) levels does not mean all the damage caused by the deficiency has been reversed.  The repair work around the body following a deficiency can take many months, or even years.

What I wish I would have done earlier: 1) pursued reality-based education; 2) known my deficiency risk areas and gotten tested; 3) taken my body’s signals of ill health more seriously; and 4) made decisions based on reality instead of theory.  I hope that my story will encourage others to take action now, to avoid being “in my shoes” in the future.

Tasha Lee

Tasha Lee

Tasha Lee is passionate about sharing the gift of fruitful living with others. She is a fruit & diabetes blogger, health coach, and author of the book Healing Diabetes with Fruit. As a type 1 diabetic and epileptic, Tasha's own health has vastly improved on a fruit-based diet. In addition to promoting healthy living, Tasha also loves to serve in sign language, music, and disability ministry.

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