Traditional and alternative nutrition—levels of homocysteine and lipid parameters in adults

M Krajcovicová-Kudlácková, P Blazícek, K Babinská, J Kopcová, J Klvanová, A Béderová, T Magálová
Scandinavian Journal of Clinical and Laboratory Investigation 2000, 60 (8): 657-64
Values of homocysteine and lipid parameters were measured in groups of adults consuming alternative nutrition (vegetarians/lactoovo/, vegans) and compared with a group consuming traditional diet (omnivores, general population). Frequency of hyperhomocysteinemia was 53% in the vegans group, 28% in vegetarians vs. 5% in omnivores. In conditions of lower methionine intake (reduced content in plant proteins), the remethylation pathway of homocysteine metabolism prevails and it is vitamin B12 and folate-dependent. The intake of vitamin B12 is equal to zero in vegans; vegetarians consume 124% of the RDA vs. 383% in omnivores. Serum vitamin levels are significantly lower in subjects consuming alternative nutrition with deficiency observed in 24% of vegetarians, 78% of vegans vs. 0% in omnivores. Serum folate levels are within the reference range in all groups. Mild hyperhomocysteinemia in the groups consuming alternative diet is a consequence of vitamin B12 deficiency. Vegetarians and vegans meet the RDA for energy and fat, and have a favourable proportion of saturated, mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids on total energy intake; the ratio of linoleic/alpha-linolenic acid in their diet corresponds with the recommendations. They have low cholesterol consumption and higher vitamin E and C intake. Optimal fat intake of correct composition is reflected in lower values of atherosclerosis risk factors (cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, atherogenic index, saturated fatty acids, triacylglycerols), and significantly higher levels of protective substances (linoleic acid, alpha-linolenic acid, HDL-cholesterol, vitamin E, vitamin E/cholesterol, vitamin C). Low lipid risk factors but higher findings of mild hyperhomocysteinemia in vegetarians mean a diminished protective effect of alternative nutrition in cardiovascular disease prevention.

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