The nutritional status of iron, folate, and vitamin B-12 of Buddhist vegetarians

Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2011;20(1):42-9.


Nutritional status of iron, folate, and vitamin B-12 in vegetarians were assessed and compared with those of non- vegetarians in Korea. The vegetarian subjects were 54 Buddhist nuns who ate no animal source food except for dairy products. The non-vegetarians were divided into two groups: 31 Catholic nuns and 31 female college students. Three-day dietary records were completed, and the blood samples were collected for analyzing a complete blood count, and serum levels of ferritin, folate, and vitamin B-12. There was no difference in hemoglobin among the diet groups. The serum ferritin and hematocrit levels of vegetarians did not differ from that of non- vegetarian students with a high intake of animal source food but low intake of vitamin C, and the levels were lower than that of non-vegetarian Catholic nuns with a modest consumption of animal source food and a high intake of vitamin C. The serum vitamin B-12 levels of all subjects except one vegetarian and the serum folate levels of all subjects except one non-vegetarian student fell within a normal range. In vegetarians, there was a positive correlation between the vitamin C intake and serum ferritin levels as well as between the laver intake and serum vitamin B-12 levels. In order to achieve an optimal iron status, both an adequate amount of iron intake and its bioavailability should be considered. Sufficient intake of vegetables and fruits was reflected in adequate serum folate status. Korean laver can be a good source of vitamin B-12 for vegetarians.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Buddhism*
  • Diet
  • Diet Records
  • Diet, Vegetarian*
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Energy Intake
  • Female
  • Ferritins / blood
  • Folic Acid / administration & dosage
  • Folic Acid / blood*
  • Hematocrit
  • Hemoglobins / analysis
  • Humans
  • Iron / blood*
  • Iron, Dietary / administration & dosage
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Republic of Korea
  • Vitamin B 12 / administration & dosage
  • Vitamin B 12 / blood*


  • Dietary Proteins
  • Hemoglobins
  • Iron, Dietary
  • Ferritins
  • Folic Acid
  • Iron
  • Vitamin B 12