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Nutrition. 2000 Feb;16(2):111-9.

Antioxidant status in vegetarians versus omnivores.

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  • 1Department of Teacher Education, University of Joensuu, Savonlinna, Finland.


Every day, vegetarians consume many carbohydrate-rich plant foods such as fruits and vegetables, cereals, pulses, and nuts. As a consequence, their diet contains more antioxidant vitamins (vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene) and copper than that of omnivores. Intake of zinc is generally comparable to that by omnivores. However, the bioavailability of zinc in vegetarian diets is generally lower than that of omnivores. Dietary intake of selenium is variable in both groups and depends on the selenium content of the soil. Measurements of antioxidant body levels in vegetarians show that a vegetarian diet maintains higher antioxidant vitamin status (vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene) but variable antioxidant trace element status as compared with an omnivorous diet. To evaluate the antioxidative potential of a vegetarian diet versus an omnivorous diet, more studies are needed in which the total antioxidant capacity is determined rather than the status of a single antioxidant nutrient.

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