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In the Vegetarian & Vegan News...
   Bill Harris, MD | Circles Under Eyes.

Dark Circles Under My Eyes from Going Veg?
Q&A with Bill Harris, MD

Q. At the start of the year my children, my husband and I became vegetarians (except for eating fish). We have 3 children 2 boys and a girl aged 9, 7 and 5 respectively, who lead very physically active lives. After 3-4 weeks I noticed the boys were developing dark circles under their eyes. As they were getting enough sleep I knew it had to be diet related so I immediately had them eating meat again.

A couple of months passed and the circles disappeared so we tried the vegetarian diet again, this time with a daily dose of vitamins. Sure enough the dark circles appeared, so again, back on the meat. The circles disappeared.

This is the third attempt to become semi vegetarians this year. It has only been a few weeks and already the dark circles under the boys eyes have appeared.

I would be grateful for any insight or advice you could give me regarding this problem.


 



A. The medical literature is silent on dark circles under the eyes, however this is what I think is happening.

Orbital tissue is very loose and expandible. With an allergic reaction it swells up and becomes pale because the pigment cells are being moved apart. As fluid or subcutaneous fat is lost the eyes appear sunken and dark because the pigment cells become more densely packed. So weight loss due to the dietary change could cause the dark eyes. If the sodium content of the diet has also gone down, that can cause a reduction in extracellular fluid volume also leading to the dark eye effect.

If you try the veggie diet again you should keep a careful record of the kids' weight. They may be losing fluid and/or weight. Children need more fat than adults in order to meet their Calorie requirements. Vegan kids should be offered plenty of raw nuts, seeds, nut butters, tofu and avocados in order to keep up their weight. All vegans need a B12 supplement.

Sincerely,

William Harris, M.D.


William Harris MD received a degree in physics from the University of California Berkeley, where he earned Phi Beta Kappa honors. He received his degree in medicine from the University of California at San Francisco, and received his postgraduate training at San Diego County Hospital. He holds a Medical License in the State of Hawaii. He has been an Emergency Department physican since 1963, and the Director of the Kaiser Permanente Vegan Lifestyle Clinic on Oahu until his retirement in 1998. Dr. Harris is the author of The Scientific Basis of Vegetarianism.

In addition, he was the 1950 Big Ten Trampoline Champion, is an accomplished hangglider and commercial pilot, and at age 70 became a skydiver with 108 jumps to date. Dr. Harris has been vegetarian since 1950, and vegan since 1963.

 

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