Nahrung. 1997 Oct; 41(5): 311-4.
Influence of vegetarian and mixed nutrition on selected haematological and biochemical parameters in children.
Research Institute of Nutrition, Bratislava, Slovak Republic.
To evaluate the health and nutritional status of children with two different nutritional habits, the authors examined 26 vegetarians (lacto- and lacto-ovo; an average period of vegetarianism 2.8 years) and 32 individuals on mixed diet (omnivores) in the age range 11-14 years. Vegetarian children had significantly lower erythrocyte number as well as reduced levels of haemoglobin and iron compared to omnivores. The average level of iron did not reach the lower limit of the physiological range and hyposiderinemia was found in 58% of vegetarians vs 9% of omnivores. Reduced iron levels were observed in spite of increased intake of vegetable iron sources and vitamin C (which facilitates the conversion to ferro-form). This reduction can be attributed to the absence of animal iron sources with high utilizability and to lower iron utilization in the presence of phytic acid (higher intake of grains compared to omnivores). The incidence of hypoalbuminemia and hypoproteinemia in vegetarian children was 38 and 12%, respectively, compared to 0% in omnivores. The protein mixture from milk, eggs and vegetable sources is complete, but vegetarian children had significantly reduced intake of milk and dairy products. Favourable lipid and antioxidant parameters in vegetarian children reflect the optimal nutrition composition with respect to the prevention of free radical diseases. Such a nutrition results in significantly lower levels of cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol compared to omnivores and significantly higher and over threshold values of essential antioxidants--vitamin C, vitamin E/cholesterol (more effective protection against LDL oxidation), beta-carotene, vitamin A.