Selenium status, plasma zinc, copper, and magnesium in vegetarians

Biol Trace Elem Res. 1995 Oct;50(1):13-24. doi: 10.1007/BF02789145.


Plasma zinc (Zn), copper (Cu), and magnesium (Mg) concentrations, copper/zinc ratio, and selenium (Se) status were studied in 44 vegetarians (22 males and 22 females) and their age- and sex-matched nonvegetarians in the Bratislava region (Slovakia). Vegetarians had statistically significant lower levels of plasma Zn and Cu than nonvegetarians, which may be the result of lower bioavailability of Zn and Cu from this type of diet. No differences in plasma Mg levels were found between vegetarians and nonvegetarians. Se status, as expressed by plasma and erythrocyte concentrations and plasma and erythrocyte glutathione peroxidase activities (GPx), was significantly lower in vegetarians when compared to nonvegetarians. In the series as a whole, there were significantly higher correlations between plasma and erythrocyte Se concentrations and between plasma and erythrocyte GPx activities. Significant positive correlations were also found between plasma Se concentrations and erythrocyte GPx activities, and between erythrocyte Se concentrations and erythrocyte GPx activities. A vegetarian diet does not provide a sufficient supply of essential antioxidant trace elements, like Zn, Cu, and especially Se. Se supplementation should be recommended to this risk group of the population.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antioxidants / metabolism*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Copper / blood
  • Diet, Vegetarian*
  • Erythrocytes / chemistry
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnesium / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutritional Status / physiology*
  • Selenium / metabolism*
  • Spectrophotometry, Atomic
  • Trace Elements / blood*
  • Zinc / blood


  • Antioxidants
  • Trace Elements
  • Copper
  • Selenium
  • Magnesium
  • Zinc