How Does Selenium Intake Differ among Children (1-3 Years) on Vegetarian, Vegan, and Omnivorous Diets? Results of the VeChi Diet Study

Nutrients. 2022 Dec 21;15(1):34. doi: 10.3390/nu15010034.


In regions with low selenium soil concentrations, selenium can be considered a critical nutrient for vegetarians and vegans. While the number of vegetarians and vegans is increasing in many countries, a large research gap remains in this field. For example, to date, no study seems to have assessed selenium intake in vegetarian and vegan children. Therefore, the selenium intake of 1- to 3-year-old vegetarian, vegan, and omnivorous children who participated in the cross-sectional VeChi Diet study was determined. Selenium intake was assessed based on 3-day food diaries (not including supplements) and food selenium concentrations provided by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Between-group differences were assessed with analysis of covariance (ANCOVA). The median daily selenium intake was 17 µg, 19 µg, and 22 µg in vegetarian, vegan, and omnivorous children, respectively. However, only the difference between the vegan and omnivorous children was statistically significant. On average, all three groups met the harmonized average requirement (H-AR) for selenium of 17 µg/day. Nevertheless, the hypothesis that vegetarian and vegan children generally consume less selenium than omnivorous children could be confirmed, and 39% of vegetarians, 36% of vegans, and 16% of omnivores fell below the adequate intake for selenium (provided by EFSA) of 15 µg/day.

Keywords: Brazil nuts; child nutrition; critical nutrients; mixed diet; plant-based diet; toddlers; veganism; vegans; vegetarians.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet
  • Diet, Vegan
  • Diet, Vegetarian
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Selenium*
  • Vegans*
  • Vegetarians


  • Selenium