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J Am Coll Nutr. 1995 Oct;14(5):463-72.

Iron and zinc status of young women aged 14 to 19 years consuming vegetarian and omnivorous diets.

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Division of Applied Human Nutrition, University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada.



To assess the iron and zinc status of young females, aged 14 to 19 years, consuming vegetarian and omnivorous diets.


Dietary intakes (via 3-day weighed food records), BMI, and laboratory indices of iron and zinc status were compared in a convenience sample of 79 lacto-ovo-vegetarians (LOV), 16 semi-vegetarians (SV), and 29 omnivorous (OM) females.


Twenty-nine percent LOV, 44% SV, and 17% OM had low iron stores (i.e., plasma ferritin < 12 micrograms/L); only 3% had anemia. As well, 24% LOV, 33% SV, and 18% OM had serum zinc < 10.71 mumol/L and 14% LOV, 14% SV, and 17% OM had hair zinc < 1.68 mumol/g. Intakes of iron and ascorbic acid from the weighed food records were associated with serum iron (p < 0.04) and total iron binding capacity (negatively; p < 0.02), respectively, whereas Phy:Zn molar ratios were associated with serum zinc (negatively; p < 0.04). Z-scores for BMI were associated with serum zinc (p < 0.02) and diet type (p < 0.001); serum AP activity was associated with age (p < 0.0001) and oral contraceptive use (p < 0.04).


Suboptimal iron and zinc status was attributed to low intakes of poorly available iron and zinc in all dietary groups.

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