2002 Study of MPV in Vegans

A reader asked me about a 2002 study that showed vegans to have a higher mean platelet volume (MPV) than high and moderate meat-eaters and lacto-ovo vegetarians (1). I had not previously reviewed this study and decided to do so here.

The exact measurements were not given for the four diet groups, but the chart indicates that vegans had an average MPV of about 9 fl while the other groups had an MPV of about 8 fl. A normal MPV is between 7.2 and 11.7 fl (2).

MPV is a measure of the size of platelets and a high level can indicate a state of platelet activation or increased propensity for blood-clotting.

In the 2002 study, MPV was inversely correlated with the percentage of docosapentaenoic acid (DPA) and dihomo gamma linolenic acid (DGLA). DPA is an intermediary fatty acid that can be produced from EPA and that can be turned into EPA or DHA. DPA has not been studied like EPA and DHA because it is not as prevalent in fish oil and isolated supplements have not been readily available – it is not known if it has any unique functions.

The higher MPV of the vegans is likely due to a lower intake of omega-3 fatty acids and/or a higher intake of omega-6 fatty acids. The lower omega-3 fatty acid status of vegans who do not ensure a regular source of omega-3s is not news, and the vegans’ MPV levels were well within the normal range (a fact not pointed out in Li’s paper which was supported by Meat and Livestock Australia).

In other words, there is nothing really new or surprising here.

1. Li D, Turner A, Sinclair AJ. Relationship between platelet phospholipid FA and mean platelet volume in healthy men. Lipids. 2002 Sep;37(9):901-6. | link

2. Demirin H, Ozhan H, Ucgun T, Celer A, Bulur S, Cil H, Gunes C, Yildirim HA. Normal range of mean platelet volume in healthy subjects: Insight from a large epidemiologic study. Thromb Res. 2011 Oct;128(4):358-60. Epub 2011 May 28. | link

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