Nutrient Intakes of SDA Vegetarians

I have updated the page, Nutrient Intakes of Vegetarians and Vegans, with data recently released from Adventist Health Study-2 (AHS-2) (1).

Some interesting notes:

– The nutrient intakes included supplements. However, they also used median amounts (rather than averages) which means someone using a very large dose of a supplement would not skew the “average” intake.

– 45% of the AHS-2 subjects were vegetarian and approximately 8% were strict vegetarians or what I’m calling “vegan.” They eat any category of animal products (meat, fish, eggs, dairy) less than once per month.

– There were two tables of nutrient intakes given in the paper and I used the one that was not adjusted for sex, race, and age as I’m not clear what that actually means in the case of nutrient intakes.

– The lacto-ovo vegetarians ate less dairy protein than the regular meat-eaters (median intake of 7.5 vs. 11.8 g per day). I have seen people suggest that lacto-ovo vegetarians tend to eat a lot more dairy than your average meat-eater, but this shows that is, on average, not the case.

– It was great to see that the median intake of vitamin B12 for vegans was 6.3 µg per day, but there were still many vegans not getting nearly enough as the 5th percentile was at a mere .4 µg per day.

– Calcium intake for the vegans was excellent at 933 mg per day. The 5th percentile was 520 mg. This was much better than the calcium intakes in the bone fracture study from EPIC-Oxford where almost half the vegans were getting less than 525 mg per day (more info).

– Sodium wasn’t terrible at 3,066 mg per day, but would ideally not be over 2,300.

– It looks like vegans ate as many calories as the regular meat-eaters. That’s hard for me to believe and could be an error in the methodology. Or, perhaps, the vegans really did eat as many calories, but you don’t see that often.


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1. Rizzo NS, Jaceldo-Siegl K, Sabate J, Fraser GE. Nutrient Profiles of Vegetarian and Nonvegetarian Dietary Patterns. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2013 Aug 26. [Epub ahead of print] | link

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