Zinc and selenium nutritional status in vegetarians

Biol Trace Elem Res. 2009 Mar;127(3):228-33. doi: 10.1007/s12011-008-8245-1. Epub 2008 Oct 25.


A vegetarian diet may have beneficial effects on human health, however when it is not well-balanced may be deficient in some nutrients, as minerals for example. The aim of the present study was to assess the nutritional status of zinc and selenium in vegetarians in the city of São Paulo. A cross-sectional study was performed, and the inclusion criteria were age > or = 18 years, both gender, no use of food or pharmaceutical supplements. Thirty vegetarian, of both genders, mean age of 27 years and 4.5 years of vegetarianism had performed the study, and their mean BMI was 21.5. Zinc plasma concentration was 71 and 62.5 microg/dL for men and women and erythrocyte concentration was 37 microg/gHb for both genders. Selenium concentration was 73.5 and 77.3 microg/L in plasma and 51.4 and 66.9 microg/L in erythrocytes for men and women, respectively. These biochemical values show that, according to the references, selenium blood levels are adequate and zinc concentration in erythrocytes is deficient in the studied population. For this reason, vegetarians should be constantly assessed and receive nutritional support to reduce the effects of inadequate zinc status.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antioxidants / metabolism*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet, Vegetarian*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Selenium / blood*
  • Young Adult
  • Zinc / blood*


  • Antioxidants
  • Selenium
  • Zinc