The relationship between micronuclei in human lymphocytes and selected micronutrients in vegetarians and non-vegetarians.Mutat Res. 2006 Dec 10; 611(1-2):64-70.MR
A vegetarian diet results in higher intake of vitamins and micronutrients, which - although providing antioxidant defence - may lead to deficiency in other micronutrients involved in DNA metabolism and stability (such as vitamins belonging to the B group). The principal difference among various vegetarian diets is the extent to which animal products are avoided. We have performed a pilot study to determine the relationship between the micronucleus frequency in lymphocytes and diet, and we compared the levels of Vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, B(12), folic acid, homocysteine and total antioxidant capacity in healthy vegetarians and non-vegetarians. The vegetarian group, consisting of 24 volunteers (13 women and 11 men), were matched for age and sex with 24 volunteers (12 women and 12 men) with a traditional dietary habit. Among the vegetarians were 13 lacto-ovo-vegetarians with average duration of vegetarian diet 10.8 years (ranging from 5 to 26 years) and 11 lacto-vegetarians with average duration of vegetarian diet 8.2 years (ranging from 3 to 15 years). Homocysteine, Vitamins C and E and beta-carotene levels in plasma were assayed by HPLC, and serum folate and Vitamin B(12) were determined with Elecsys Immunoassay tests. The total antioxidant capacity of plasma was estimated by measuring the ferric-reducing activity in a spectrophotometric assay. Micronuclei were measured in cytokinesis-blocked lymphocytes. Vegetarians had significantly higher levels of Vitamin C and beta-carotene (but not Vitamin E) in plasma compared with non-vegetarians (P<0.001). There were no significant differences in serum levels of folic acid and Vitamin B(12) between the monitored groups. Levels of folic acid in vegetarians correlated with length of vegetarianism (r=0.62, P=0.001, N=24). Vegetarians had elevated levels of homocysteine compared with non-vegetarians (P=0.007), as did vegetarian women compared with non-vegetarian women (P=0.031). We did not find any differences in total antioxidant capacity or in micronucleus frequency between the groups. Micronuclei correlated with age (r=0.62, P<0.001, N=48), women having higher frequencies than men. Multifactorial regression analysis showed significant effects of age, sex and total antioxidant capacity on micronucleus frequency (N=48, P<0.001).