Vegan For Life
by Jack Norris, RD &
Ginny Messina, MPH, RD
Nutrient Intakes of Vegetarians and Vegans
The table below shows the nutrient intakes of participants in the EPIC-Oxford study. A few caveats should be noted:
This data did not include supplements people were taking, but it did include fortified foods.
The paper did not include sodium.
Vitamin A is listed as measured in micrograms of retinol, rather than retinol activity equivalents (RAE). Plant foods do not contain retinol, yet vegans are listed as having an intake of retinol. But that intake seems very low compared to what would be expected if carotenoids were included. So, it is unclear how the amount of vitamin A was determined.
These nutrient intakes were based on food frequency questionnaires (FFQ) which are the least accurate way of measuring nutrient intakes. FFQs involve asking someone how often they eat a long list of foods. Two better ways to measure nutrient intakes are to ask participants to keep a food diary, or to analyze duplicate portions in a laboratory. EPIC-Oxford has plans to report nutrient intakes by using food dairies among a sample of the population. The authors reported that:
Seven-day food diaries were completed by 31,000 participants and these will provide further information on energy intake. Preliminary analysis of a sample of 150 food diaries indicates that the FFQ does indeed underestimate intakes of energy, and therefore of most nutrients, among vegans (unpublished data).
|Table 1. Nutrient Intakes from EPIC-Oxford (2003)1 Food Frequency Questionnaires|
|% of calories as carbohydrate||47||50||51||55||48||51||53||56|
|% of calories as protein||16||14||13||13||17||15||14||14|
|% of calories as fat||32||31||31||28||32||31||30||28|
|Saturated fat (g)||26||22||22||11||22||19||19||10|
|% of calories as saturated fat||11||9||9||5||10||9||9||5|
|Vitamin A - retinol (mcg)||740||337||306||74||654||308||277||77|
|Vitamin B1 - thiamin (mg)||1.7||1.8||1.9||2.3||1.6||1.7||1.8||2.1|
|Vitamin B2 - riboflavin (mg)||2.3||2.2||2.2||2.3||2.2||2.1||2.1||2.1|
|Vitamin B3 - niacin (mg)||24.7||21.7||20.8||23.9||23.2||19.5||18.3||21.1|
|Vitamin B6 (mg)||2.3||2.1||2.0||2.2||2.2||2.0||1.9||2.1|
|Vitamin B12 (mcg)||7.3||5.0||2.6||0.4||7.0||4.9||2.5||0.5|
|Vitamin C (mg)||119||130||123||155||138||147||147||169|
|Vitamin D (mcg)||3.4||2.9||1.6||0.9||3.3||2.8||1.5||0.9|
|Vitamin E (mg)||11.8||13.0||13.7||16.1||10.7||11.4||11.6||14.0|
1. Davey GK, Spencer EA, Appleby PN, Allen NE, Knox KH, Key TJ. EPIC-Oxford: lifestyle characteristics and nutrient intakes in a cohort of 33 883 meat-eaters and 31 546 non meat-eaters in the UK. Public Health Nutr. 2003 May;6(3):259-69.