Selected micronutrient intake and status in men with differing meat intakes, vegetarians and vegans

Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2000 Mar;9(1):18-23. doi: 10.1046/j.1440-6047.2000.00129.x.

Abstract

Dietary factors play a critical role in human health. The aim of this cross-sectional study was to examine micronutrient intake and status of subjects who were habitual meat eaters eating different quantities of meat with those who were habitual vegetarians or vegans. One hundred and thirty-nine healthy male subjects (vegan, n = 18; ovolacto-vegetarian, n = 46; moderate meat-eater, n = 65; and high meat-eater, n = 18) aged 20-55 years were recruited in metropolitan Melbourne. Each volunteer completed a semiquantitative Food Frequency Questionnaire (FFQ) and gave a fasting venous blood sample. Dietary sodium/potassium ratio was significantly lower and vitamin C, fibre and iron intakes were higher in vegetarians than in meat-eaters. High meat-eaters had a significantly higher calcium, retinol and zinc intake than did the other three dietary groups; moderate meateaters had the lowest mean intake of fibre, vitamin C and β-carotene. Vegans had a significantly higher β-carotene intake than did the other groups. Serum ferritin and vitamin B12 levels, and haemoglobin concentration were significantly lower in vegetarians than in meat-eaters. Vegans had a significantly higher serum folate concentration than did ovolacto-vegetarian and moderate meat-eater groups. There was no significant difference in serum α-tocopherol concentration. There are differences between the four diet groups that have potential to affect the subjects' health and susceptibility to chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease and cancer. Based on the present data, high meat-eaters may particularly benefit from altering their dietary pattern to reduce their sodium and saturated fat intake, and moderate meat-eaters from increasing their fibre and antioxidant consumption. Vegetarians, especially vegans, may need to increase their vitamin B12 and zinc intakes.