Nutrient intake and iron status of Australian male vegetarians.Eur J Clin Nutr 1999; 53(3):189-94EJ
The study was designed to investigate the iron intake and status of Australian, male vegetarians aged between 20 and 50 y.
Cross-sectional comparison of male vegetarians and age/sex matched omnivores.
Free-living community subjects.
39 ovolactovegetarians, 10 vegans and 25 omnivores were recruited by local advertisement.
A 12-d semiquantitative dietary record to assess iron and zinc intake. Iron status was assessed by measurement of serum ferritin and haemoglobin concentrations.
Mean (s.d.) daily iron intakes of both the ovolactovegetarians (20.4 (7.7) mg/d) and vegans (22.9 (6.2) mg/d), were significantly higher than the omnivores' intake of 15.8 (4.5) mg/d. Ovo-lactovegetarians and vegans had significantly (P < 0.001 and P < 0.05, respectively) lower serum ferritin concentrations than omnivores: mean (s.d.): 64 (46.9), 65 (49.9) and 121 (72.5) ng/ml, respectively. Significantly more ovolactovegetarians and vegans than omnivores had serum ferritin concentrations below 25 ng/ml and below 12 ng/ml (P < 0.05). A higher proportion of omnivores had concentrations above 200 ng/ml (P < 0.05). The differences in serum ferritin concentrations between the vegetarians and omnivores remained significant even after exclusion of iron supplement users.
Australian male vegetarians had iron intakes higher than those of omnivores and above recommended levels, but their iron status was significantly lower.