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Nutrients. 2010 Jul;2(7):770-80. doi: 10.3390/nu2070770. Epub 2010 Jul 14.

Nutritional status of Flemish vegetarians compared with non-vegetarians: a matched samples study.

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Department of Human Biometry and Biomechanics, Faculty of Physical Education and Physical Therapy, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Pleinlaan 2, B-1050 Brussel, Belgium; Email: (K.A.); (M.H.); (P.C.).


The present study compares the nutritional status of vegetarian (V) with non-vegetarian (NV) subjects. A three-day food record and a health questionnaire were completed by 106 V and 106 NV matched for following characteristics: sex, age, BMI, physical activity, tobacco use and alcohol consumption. Total energy intake was not significantly different (men: V: 2,346 ± 685 kcal/d; NV: 2,628 ± 632 kcal/d; p = 0.078; women: V: 1,991 ± 539 kcal/d; NV: 1,973 ± 592 kcal/d; p = 0.849). Macronutrients intake differed significantly between the V and NV subjects for protein (men: V:12.7 ± 2.3 E%; NV:15.3 ± 4.5 E%; p = 0.003; women: V: 13.2 ± 2.3 E%; NV:16.0 ± 4.0 E%; p < 0.001), fat (men: V: 29.3 ± 8.4 E%; NV: 33.8 ± 5.3 E%; p = 0.010; women: V: 29.7 ± 6.9 E%; NV: 34.7 ± 9.0 E%; p < 0.001), and carbohydrate (men: V: 55.3 ± 10.1 E%; NV: 47.4 ± 6.9 E%; p < 0.001; women: V: 55.1 ± 7.6 E%; NV: 47.2 ± 8.2 E%; p < 0.001). The intake of most minerals was significantly different between the V and the NV subjects. V had a lower sodium intake, higher calcium, zinc, and iron intake compared to the NV subjects. Our results clearly indicate that a vegetarian diet can be adequate to sustain the nutritional demands to at least the same degree as that of omnivores. The intakes of the V subjects were closer to the recommendations for a healthy diet when compared to a group of well matched NV subjects.


vegetarians; matched samples; nutritional status

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