Very low n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid status in Austrian vegetarians and vegans.


Authors M Kornsteiner , I Singer, I Elmadfa
Institution Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Vienna
Publication Name Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism
Publication Date February 2012

BACKGROUND/AIMS:
The objective of the study was to collect data on dietary fat intake of omnivores, vegetarians, vegans and semi-omnivores as well as its impact on n-3 and n-6 fatty acids in long-term markers such as sphingolipids, phosphatidylcholine (PC), phosphatidylserine (PS), phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) as well as the calculated sphingo- and phospholipids (SPL) of erythrocytes.
METHOD:
The present observational study included 98 Austrian adult volunteers of both genders, of which 23 were omnivores, 25 vegetarians, 37 vegans, and 13 semi-omnivores. Information on anthropometry using measured body weight and height was obtained. The amount and composition of ingested fat were calculated from 24-hour recalls and the fatty acid pattern in the phospholipids was assessed using gas chromatography.
RESULTS:
The unbalanced n-6/n-3 ratio and the limited dietary sources of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in vegans and vegetarians led to reductions in C20:5n-3, C22:5n-3, C22:6n-3 and total n-3 fatty acids in SPL, PC, PS and PE compared with omnivores and semi-omnivores. The total content of polyunsaturated fatty acids, monounsaturated fatty acids and saturated fatty acids remained unchanged.
CONCLUSION:
The vegetarian diet, with an average n-6/n-3 ratio of 10/1, promotes biochemical n-3 tissue decline. To ensure physical, mental and neurological health vegetarians have to reduce the n-6/n-3 ratio with an additional intake of direct sources of EPA and DHA, regardless of age and gender.

Drew Ramsey, MD

Drew Ramsey, M.D. is a psychiatrist, author, and farmer. He is a clear voice in the mental health conversation and one of psychiatry’s leading proponents of using nutritional interventions. He is an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

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