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ARS Home » Plains Area » Grand Forks, North Dakota » Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center » Healthy Body Weight Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #131753


item Hunt, Janet

Submitted to: The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/7/2002
Publication Date: 8/1/2002
Citation: Hunt, J.R. 2002. Bioavailability of iron, zinc, and other trace minerals from vegetarian diets[abstract]. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 78S:633S-39S.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Iron and zinc are the trace minerals of greatest concern when considering the nutritional value of vegetarian diets. With elimination of meat and increased intake of phytate-containing legumes and whole grains, both iron and zinc absorption are reduced from vegetarian, compared with nonvegetarian diets. The health consequences of reduced iron and zinc bioavailability are not clear, especially in industrialized countries with an abundant, varied food supply, where nutrition and health research has generally supported recommendations to reduce meat and increase legume and whole grain consumption. While vegetarians have lower iron stores, adverse health effects of lower iron and zinc absorption have not been demonstrated with varied, vegetarian diets in developed countries. Monitoring the iron status of vegetarian children and women of child-bearing age may be prudent; the benefit of routine iron supplementation has not been demonstrated. Improved assessment methods are required to determine if vegetarians are at risk of zinc deficiency. Supplementation recommendations should consider the likely nutritional interactions between these two nutrients and other trace elements such as copper. In contrast with iron and zinc, copper is derived principally from plant sources, and its bioavailability from a vegetarian diet appears unimpaired.