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October 2021

Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 1997 ; 51(1): 1-16.

Dietary strategies to improve the iron and zinc nutriture of young women following a vegetarian diet.

Gibson RS, Donovan UM, Heath AL.

Department of Human Nutrition, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.

Dietary strategies to enhance the content and bioavailability of iron and zinc in vegetarian diets were compiled. Strategies included increasing promoters and decreasing antagonists of iron and zinc absorption, adopting food preparation and processing methods which hydrolyze the phytate content of cereals and legumes, and using iron cookware. These strategies were used to devise two vegetarian menus based on food consumption patterns derived from three day weighed food records of 78 Canadian lacto-ovo-vegetarian adolescents. The iron and zinc, as well as calcium, phosphorus, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin A, protein and energy content of the devised menus were all higher than the actual intakes and the corresponding Canadian recommended nutrient intakes. Results show the overall nutrient adequacy of the recommended vegetarian menus and indicate that young lacto-vegetarian women can potentially meet their estimated dietary requirements for absorbed iron and zinc through modest modifications to the diet. Laboratory studies designed to measure the total amount of iron and zinc absorbed from these diets by young vegetarian women are needed to verify the efficacy of the devised menus.

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