Association of micronutrient status with subclinical health complaints in lactovegetarian adults
Background: Micronutrient malnutrition has many adverse effects on human health, not all of which may be
Objective: To explore linkages between subclinical health complaints and micronutrient status in
lactovegetarian Indian adults.
Design: Health was assessed in 502 lactovegetarian adults (275 men, 227 women, aged 30.6±9 years) using a
structured questionnaire for existing complaints with severity of symptoms on a four-point scale and
morbidity over the preceding month. Subjects were categorized as having no complaints (NC), or complaints
of mild (MI) or moderate (MD) degree, using cluster analysis. Diet was recorded by a semi-quantitative food
frequency questionnaire and nutrient intakes were computed using standard databases. Levels of
haemoglobin, vitamin C, retinol, ceruloplasmin, riboflavin (EGRAC), folic acid, vitamin B
<sub>12</sub> and erythrocyte
membrane zinc (RBCMZn) in blood were estimated.
Results: Health complaints of a mild and moderate degree were observed in 30.5% and 24.7% of the subjects,
respectively. Average dietary intakes of β-carotene, riboflavin, iron and zinc were observed to be only about
half of the recommended dietary intakes. There was a decreasing trend in micronutrient intakes from NC to
MD. Intakes of iron, zinc, niacin and thiamin of men from the MI group tended to be lower than in the NC
<0.1). . Men from the MD group had significantly lower intakes of calcium, zinc and riboflavin than
those from the NC group (<italic>p</italic>
<0.05). . The intakes of these nutrients in women from NC, MI and MD were not
significantly different. Multinomial logistic regression of health status revealed that plasma vitamin C and
RBCMZn were negatively associated with MD and RBCMZn with MI.
Conclusions: The study indicates a need to increase micronutrient intakes of vegetarian populations, especially
regarding vitamin C and zinc for maintenance of health.
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