Nutrient intake and health status of vegans. Chemical analyses of diets using the duplicate portion sampling technique.


Abdulla M and Andersson I and Asp NG and Berthelsen K and Birkhed D and Dencker I and Johansson CG and Jägerstad M and Kolar K and Nair BM and Nilsson-Ehle P and Nordén A and Rassner S and Akesson B and Ockerman PA

Year Published: 



The American journal of clinical nutrition


Study Design: 


A strict vegetarian diet [vegan diet (VD)] was investigated. Six middle-aged vegans (three men and three women) collected copies of 24-h diets using the duplicate portion sampling technique. By chemical analyses, the nutrient composition was determined in detail and compared with corresponding figures of a normal mixed Swedish diet. In the VD 30% of the energy originated from fat compared with 40% in normal Swedish mixed diet (MD). Linoleic acid was the dominant fatty acid (60% of total fat in VD versus 8% in MD). The VD contained 24 g protein/1000 kcal compared to 30 g/1000 kcal in MD, but the intake of essential amino acids by the vegans exceeded the recommendations. Dietary fiber was about 5 times higher in the vegan diet (29 versus 6 g/1000 kcal) and sucrose similar to MD (18 versus 21 g/1000 kcal). Among the inorganic nutrients the concentration of calcium (351 versus 391 mg/1000 kcal) and sodium (53 versus 49 mmol/1000 kcal) were similar in both types of diets but the amount of potassium (56 versus 30 mmol/1000 kcal, magnesium (300 versus 110 mg/1000 kcal), iron (9 versus 6.5 mg/1000 kcal), zinc (6.5 versus 4.7 mg/1000 kcal), and copper (2 versus 0.7 mg/1000 kcal) were nearly doubled. Iodine (39 versus 156 micrograms/1000 kcal and selenium (5 versus 17 micrograms/1000 kcal) were much lower in the VD, selenium even being undetectable in several 24-h diets. The VD was rich in folic acid (301 versus 90 micrograms/1000 kcal in MD) but the intake of vitamin B12 was only 0.3 to 0.4 microgram/day (MD: 3 to 4 micrograms/day). No clinical signs of nutritional deficiency were observed in the vegans. Serum protein levels of the vegans as well as their serum lipoproteins were near the lower range of the reference group. In addition, none of the vegans was overweight and their blood pressures were low for their age.