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J Am Coll Nutr. 1993 Oct; 12(5): 527-30.

Does a vegetarian diet control Wilson's disease?

Brewer GJ, Yuzbasiyan-Gurkan V, Dick R, Wang Y, Johnson V.

Department of Human Genetics, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor 48109-0618.

The literature indicates that copper (Cu) is less bioavailable from a vegetarian as compared to mixed diet. Further, several groups, including ours, find rather marginal average Cu intake in the typical American diet. For example, our data indicate that Wilson's disease patients on a typical American diet ingest only about 25% more Cu than is required. This suggests that a vegetarian diet, if it reduced bioavailability by about 25% or more, would be an adequate maintenance therapy for Wilson's disease. Observations in two of our patients, who were on lactovegetarian diets by choice, and who were almost totally noncompliant with anti-Cu therapy, support this view. These observations suggest that vegetarian diets may be a management tool for Wilson's disease. They also further emphasize the marginal Cu intake in American diets, and suggest that some seemingly healthy people, particularly vegetarians, may be at risk for mild Cu deficiency.

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