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Dietary intake and nutritional status of young vegans and omnivores in Sweden

Larsson, Christel L., Johansson, Gunnar K.
American journal of clinical nutrition 2002 v.76 no.1 pp. 100-106
adolescents, blood, cakes, calcium, candy, chocolate, cookies, dietary supplements, eating habits, energy intake, excretion, females, folic acid, legumes, males, nitrogen, nutrients, nutrition knowledge, nutritional status, omnivores, potassium, riboflavin, selenium, sodium, urine, vegetables, vitamin B12, vitamin D, Sweden
Background: Adolescents sometimes become vegetarian for ethical rather than health reasons. This may result in health problems caused by lack of interest in and knowledge of nutrition. Objective: We compared the dietary intake and nutritional status of young Swedish vegans and omnivores. Design: The dietary intakes of 30 vegans (15 males and 15 females; mean age: 17.5 +/- 1.0 y) and 30 sex-, age-, and height-matched omnivores were assessed with the use of a diet-history interview and validated by the doubly labeled water method and by measuring nitrogen, sodium, and potassium excretion in urine. Iron status and serum vitamin B-12 and folate concentrations were measured in blood samples. Results: The diet-history method underestimated energy intake by 13% and potassium intake by 7% compared with the doubly labeled water method and 24-h urine excretion, respectively. Reported dietary nitrogen and sodium intakes agreed with the 24-h urinary excretion measure. Vegans had higher intakes of vegetables, legumes, and dietary supplements and lower intakes of cake and cookies and candy and chocolate than did omnivores. Vegans had dietary intakes lower than the average requirements of riboflavin, vitamin B-12, vitamin D, calcium, and selenium. Intakes of calcium and selenium remained low even with the inclusion of dietary supplements. There was no significant difference in the prevalence of low iron status among vegans (20%) and omnivores (23%). Two vegans with low intakes of vitamin B-12 had low serum concentrations. Conclusion: The dietary habits of the vegans varied considerably and did not comply with the average requirements for some essential nutrients.