Review

How prevalent is vitamin B(12) deficiency among vegetarians?

Vegetarians are at risk for vitamin B(12) (B12) deficiency due to suboptimal intake. The goal of the present literature review was to assess the rate of B12 depletion and deficiency among vegetarians and vegans. Using a PubMed search to identify relevant publications, 18 articles were found that reported B12 deficiency rates from studies that identified deficiency by measuring methylmalonic acid, holo-transcobalamin II, or both.

Diet and chronic degenerative diseases:perspectives from China

A comprehensive ecologic survey of dietary, life-style, and mortality characteristics of 65 counties in rural China showed that diets are substantially richer in foods of plant origin when compared with diets consumed in the more industrialized, Western societies. Mean intakes of animal protein (about one-tenth of the mean intake in the United States as energy percent), total fat (14.5% of energy), and dietary fiber (33.3 g/d) reflected a substantial preference for foods of plant origin. Mean plasma cholesterol concentration, at a3.23-3.49 mmol/L, corresponds to this dietary life- style.

Cancerostatic effect of vegetarian diets.

A cancerostatic effect of vegetarian diets is proposed on the basis of a selective alteration of the metabolic pathways of fatty acids in neoplastic cells. Most vegetables lack the enzyme 6-desaturase (6D), which converts linoleic to arachidonic acid. Human cells have 6D, and therefore humans do not need to eat the higher polyunsaturated fatty acids found in animal tissues. Many neoplastic cells have lost the activity of 6D. A vegetarian diet would deprive neoplastic cells of higher-chain fatty acids and inhibit the activity of 6D.

Does a vegetarian diet reduce the occurrence of diabetes?

We propose the hypothesis that a vegetarian diet reduces the risk of developing diabetes. Findings that have generated this hypothesis are from a population of 25,698 adult White Seventh-day Adventists identified in 1960. During 21 years of follow-up, the risk of diabetes as an underlying cause of death in Adventists was approximately one-half the risk for all US Whites. Within the male Adventist population, vegetarians had a substantially lower risk than non-vegetarians of diabetes as an underlying or contributing cause of death.

Vegetarian diet in mild hypertension: effects of fat and fiber.

Recently, a relatively small reduction in systolic blood pressure (approximately 5 mm Hg) was estimated to substantially reduce the numbers of major coronary events. The blood pressure reduction is about the same as the difference seen between typical ovolactovegetarians and omnivores. This paper reviews the evidence for the blood pressure-lowering effects of a vegetarian diet on those with elevated blood pressure. It also reviews whether the effect on blood pressure of a vegetarian diet can be attributed either to elevation of the dietary P:S ratio or to fiber intake alone.

Ecology and vegetarian considerations: does environmental responsibility demand the elimination of livestock?

Although the recommendation to avoid animal flesh for environmental reasons has been increasingly advanced, especially in the highly industrialized countries, the ecological implications of such avoidance are seldom carefully examined. If sustainable food systems are to be modeled after natural systems that maintain fertility, both plants and animals would be involved. This paper examines the history of the idea that environmental responsibility is linked to vegetarianism and the destructive effects of present methods of animal raising on farmers, animal welfare, and the environment.

Vegetarian and other complex diets, fats, fiber, and hypertension.

Although much of the attention on diet and hypertension has centered around the rule of specific nutrients such as sodium, potassium, and alcohol, it has become evident that certain complex dietary patterns have a blood pressure-lowering effect and may help protect against the development of hypertension. It remains to be seen whether these effects on blood pressure require complex but specific combinations of nutrients or, alternatively, are due to hitherto unrecognized single nutrients with antihypertensive properties.

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