Traditional and alternative nutrition--levels of homocysteine and lipid parameters in adults

Scand J Clin Lab Invest. 2000 Dec;60(8):657-64. doi: 10.1080/00365510050216385.


Values of homocysteine and lipid parameters were measured in groups of adults consuming alternative nutrition (vegetarians/lactoovo/, vegans) and compared with a group consuming traditional diet (omnivores, general population). Frequency of hyperhomocysteinemia was 53% in the vegans group, 28% in vegetarians vs. 5% in omnivores. In conditions of lower methionine intake (reduced content in plant proteins), the remethylation pathway of homocysteine metabolism prevails and it is vitamin B12 and folate-dependent. The intake of vitamin B12 is equal to zero in vegans; vegetarians consume 124% of the RDA vs. 383% in omnivores. Serum vitamin levels are significantly lower in subjects consuming alternative nutrition with deficiency observed in 24% of vegetarians, 78% of vegans vs. 0% in omnivores. Serum folate levels are within the reference range in all groups. Mild hyperhomocysteinemia in the groups consuming alternative diet is a consequence of vitamin B12 deficiency. Vegetarians and vegans meet the RDA for energy and fat, and have a favourable proportion of saturated, mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids on total energy intake; the ratio of linoleic/alpha-linolenic acid in their diet corresponds with the recommendations. They have low cholesterol consumption and higher vitamin E and C intake. Optimal fat intake of correct composition is reflected in lower values of atherosclerosis risk factors (cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, atherogenic index, saturated fatty acids, triacylglycerols), and significantly higher levels of protective substances (linoleic acid, alpha-linolenic acid, HDL-cholesterol, vitamin E, vitamin E/cholesterol, vitamin C). Low lipid risk factors but higher findings of mild hyperhomocysteinemia in vegetarians mean a diminished protective effect of alternative nutrition in cardiovascular disease prevention.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Arteriosclerosis / blood
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood
  • Cholesterol, LDL / blood
  • Dairy Products
  • Diet, Vegetarian*
  • Eggs
  • Female
  • Folic Acid / blood
  • Homocysteine / blood*
  • Humans
  • Lipids / blood*
  • Male
  • Methionine / administration & dosage
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Reference Values
  • Risk Factors
  • Vitamin B 12 / blood


  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Lipids
  • Homocysteine
  • Folic Acid
  • Cholesterol
  • Methionine
  • Vitamin B 12