Health effects of vegan diets

Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 May;89(5):1627S-1633S. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2009.26736N. Epub 2009 Mar 11.


Recently, vegetarian diets have experienced an increase in popularity. A vegetarian diet is associated with many health benefits because of its higher content of fiber, folic acid, vitamins C and E, potassium, magnesium, and many phytochemicals and a fat content that is more unsaturated. Compared with other vegetarian diets, vegan diets tend to contain less saturated fat and cholesterol and more dietary fiber. Vegans tend to be thinner, have lower serum cholesterol, and lower blood pressure, reducing their risk of heart disease. However, eliminating all animal products from the diet increases the risk of certain nutritional deficiencies. Micronutrients of special concern for the vegan include vitamins B-12 and D, calcium, and long-chain n-3 (omega-3) fatty acids. Unless vegans regularly consume foods that are fortified with these nutrients, appropriate supplements should be consumed. In some cases, iron and zinc status of vegans may also be of concern because of the limited bioavailability of these minerals.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Asian People
  • Body Weight
  • Bone Density
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Choice Behavior
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Cholesterol, LDL / blood
  • Diet, Vegetarian / statistics & numerical data*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / metabolism
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Heart Diseases / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Vitamin D Deficiency
  • Young Adult


  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Cholesterol