Objective: Vegetarians and vegans exclude certain food sources of vitamin D from their diet, but it is not clear to what extent this affects plasma concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D). The objective was to investigate differences in vitamin D intake and plasma concentrations of 25(OH)D among meat eaters, fish eaters, vegetarians and vegans.
Design: A cross-sectional analysis.
Setting: United Kingdom.
Subjects: Plasma 25(OH)D concentrations were measured in 2107 white men and women (1388 meat eaters, 210 fish eaters, 420 vegetarians and eighty-nine vegans) aged 20-76 years from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC)-Oxford cohort.
Results: Plasma 25(OH)D concentrations reflected the degree of animal product exclusion and, hence, dietary intake of vitamin D; meat eaters had the highest mean intake of vitamin D (3·1 (95 % CI 3·0, 3·2) μg/d) and mean plasma 25(OH)D concentrations (77·0 (95 % CI 75·4, 78·8) nmol/l) and vegans the lowest (0·7 (95 % CI 0·6, 0·8) μg/d and 55·8 (95 % CI 51·0, 61·0) nmol/l, respectively). The magnitude of difference in 25(OH)D concentrations between meat eaters and vegans was smaller (20 %) among those participants who had a blood sample collected during the summer months (July-September) compared with the winter months (38 %; January-March). The prevalence of low plasma concentrations of 25(OH)D (<25 nmol/l) during the winter and spring ranged from <1 % to 8 % across the diet groups.
Conclusions: Plasma 25(OH)D concentrations were lower in vegetarians and vegans than in meat and fish eaters; diet is an important determinant of plasma 25(OH)D in this British population.