VO Donation Page

Vegan For Life
by Jack Norris, RD &
Ginny Messina, MPH, RD
For Updates: or subscribe to JackNorrisRD.com

Nutrient Intakes of Vegetarians and Vegans

The table below shows the nutrient intakes of participants in EPIC-Oxford (1) and Adventist Health Study-2 (AHS-2) (2).

EPIC-Oxford:

  • Did not include supplements, but did include fortified foods.
  • 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.

AHS-2:

  • Data includes fortified foods and supplements. No separate analysis was given without supplements included.

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indicates that the FFQ does indeed underestimate intakes of energy, and therefore of most nutrients, among vegans (unpublished data).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
 EPIC1AHS-22
MenWomenMen & Women
Non-
Veg
Pesco Lacto-
Ovo
Vegan Non-
Veg
Pesco Lacto-
Ovo
Vegan Non-
Veg
Semi Pesco Lacto-
Ovo
Vegan
Number6,9511,5003,74877022,9626,93112,34713,43233,6344,0426,58321,7995,694
Calories2,1862,1192,0901,9071,9101,8451,8101,6601,7731,6091,8151,8031,791
Carb (g)256264268262231236239233267281285285309
Carb %47505155485153565356575762
Protein (g)87746862836962567571737171
Protein %16141313171514141514151214
Fat (g)78747360686462527774727365
Fat %32313128323130283533333329
Sat Fat (g)26222211221919101917151611
Sat Fat %119951099598775
Fiber (g)19222328192222263035373746
n3 (g)  -    -    -    -    -    -    -    -  2.12.02.22.01.8
Vit A - retinol (mcg)7403373067465430827777  -    -    -    -    -  
beta-carotene (mcg)  -    -    -    -    -    -    -    -  5,5255,8617,4176,3038,474
Vit B1 - thiamin (mg)22222222  -    -    -    -    -  
Vit B2 - riboflavin (mg)22222222  -    -    -    -    -  
Vit B3 - niacin (mg)2522212423201821  -    -    -    -    -  
Vit B6 (mg)2.32.12.02.22.22.01.92.13.13.43.53.33.2
Vit B12 (mcg)7.35.02.60.47.04.92.50.57.18.38.58.06.3
Folate (mcg)329358367431321346350412672731766729723
Vit C (mg)119130123155138147147169250273308271293
Vit D (mcg)3.42.91.60.93.32.81.50.96.15.55.84.62.4
Vit E (mg)11.813.013.716.110.711.411.614.020.026.126.924.718.5
Calcium (mg)1,0571,0811,0876109891,0211,0125821,0721,1951,1251,145933
Iron (mg)13.414.013.915.312.612.812.614.120.021.722.422.122.2
Magnesium (mg)36639639644034135835239144849251914591
Phosphorus (mg)  -    -    -    -    -    -    -    -  1,3591,3601,3661,3481,370
Potassium (mg)3,9653,9404,0293,9373,8393,7593,9563,8173,4873,6273,8533,6674,120
Sodium (mg)  -    -    -    -    -    -    -    -  3,2723,3463,1013,4323,066
Zinc (mg)9.88.68.47.99.27.97.77.211.911.611.511.511.3
Numbers listed are the average for EPIC-Oxford and the median for AHS-2.

References

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. | link

2. 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