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PLoS One. 2016 Feb 3;11(2):e0148235. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0148235. eCollection 2016.

Food and Nutrient Intake and Nutritional Status of Finnish Vegans and Non-Vegetarians.

Author information

1
School of Applied Educational Science and Teacher Education, University of Eastern Finland, Savonlinna, Finland.
2
The Genomics and Biomarkers Unit, National Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland.
3
Institute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Finland.
4
Department of Clinical Chemistry and Hematology, Helsinki University Central Hospital Laboratory, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Helsinki, Finland.
5
HUSLAB, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Helsinki, Finland.
6
Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency, Helsinki, Finland.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Vegetarian and vegan diets have become more popular among adolescents and young adults. However, few studies have investigated the nutritional status of vegans, who may be at risk of nutritional deficiencies.

OBJECTIVE:

To compare dietary intake and nutritional status of Finnish long-term vegans and non-vegetarians.

METHODS:

Dietary intake and supplement use were estimated using three-day dietary records. Nutritional status was assessed by measuring biomarkers in plasma, serum, and urine samples. Vegans' (n = 22) data was compared with those of sex- and age-matched non-vegetarians (n = 19).

RESULTS:

All vegans adhered strictly to their diet; however, individual variability was marked in food consumption and supplementation habits. Dietary intakes of key nutrients, vitamins B12 and D, were lower (P < 0.001) in vegans than in non-vegetarians. Nutritional biomarker measurements showed lower concentrations of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 (25(OH)D3), iodine and selenium (corrected for multiple comparisons, P < 0.001), Vegans showed more favorable fatty acid profiles (P < 0.001) as well as much higher concentrations of polyphenols such as genistein and daidzein (P < 0.001). Eicosapentaenoic acid proportions in vegans were higher than expected. The median concentration of iodine in urine was below the recommended levels in both groups.

CONCLUSIONS:

Long-term consumption of a vegan diet was associated with some favorable laboratory measures but also with lowered concentrations of key nutrients compared to reference values. This study highlights the need for nutritional guidance to vegans.

PMID:
26840251
PMCID:
PMC4739591
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0148235
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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