People on a vegan diet may need to get more of this nutrient

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In a new study, researchers found that in people following a vegan diet, vitamin B12 can be well supplemented, but iodine is a matter of concern.

The research was conducted by a team at BfR Federal Institute for Risk Assessment.

This study compared a vegan diet with a mixed diet with regard to various vitamins and trace elements.

Both diets revealed a lack of iodine. However, the shortage is clearly more distinct in the vegan variant.

In the study, the research team analyzed blood and urine samples and evaluated lifestyle questionnaires and dietary protocols.

Of those participating (18 women and men respectively per group aged 30-60 years), almost all those following a vegan diet and one third following a mixed diet took different food supplements.

The researchers found there was no big difference with regard to vitamin B12 in a vegan group and a non-vegan group.

Since vitamin B12 is taken up almost exclusively by animal food, the supply of participants following a vegan diet could be due to the intake via dietary supplements.

For both diets, about 10% of participants had an iron deficiency.

The study results were particularly noteworthy with regard to the trace element iodine.

Iodine excretion measured in urine samples provides information on how well the body is supplied with the trace element.

The majority of the participants had a deficiency.

The deficiency was much more pronounced among vegans—in one-third of them, the level was below 20 micrograms per liter (μg/L), the limit defined by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The team says that a vegan diet has, however, also shown health benefits, such as a higher fiber intake and lower cholesterol levels.

One author of the study is Professor Dr. Andreas Hensel.

The study is published in the journal DEUTSCHES ÄRZTEBLATT INTERNATIONAL

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