Public Health Nutrition

Biological and behavioural determinants

Plasma concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D in meat eaters, fish eaters, vegetarians and vegans: results from the EPIC–Oxford study

Francesca L Crowea1 c1, Marinka Steura1, Naomi E Allena1, Paul N Applebya1, Ruth C Travisa1 and Timothy J Keya1

a1 Cancer Epidemiology Unit, Nuffield Department of Clinical Medicine, University of Oxford, Richard Doll Building, Roosevelt Drive, Oxford OX3 7LF, UK

Abstract

Objective Vegetarians and vegans exclude certain food sources of vitamin D from their diet, but it is not clear to what extent this affects plasma concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D). The objective was to investigate differences in vitamin D intake and plasma concentrations of 25(OH)D among meat eaters, fish eaters, vegetarians and vegans.

Design A cross-sectional analysis.

Setting United Kingdom.

Subjects Plasma 25(OH)D concentrations were measured in 2107 white men and women (1388 meat eaters, 210 fish eaters, 420 vegetarians and eighty-nine vegans) aged 20–76 years from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC)–Oxford cohort.

Results Plasma 25(OH)D concentrations reflected the degree of animal product exclusion and, hence, dietary intake of vitamin D; meat eaters had the highest mean intake of vitamin D (3·1 (95 % CI 3·0, 3·2) μg/d) and mean plasma 25(OH)D concentrations (77·0 (95 % CI 75·4, 78·8) nmol/l) and vegans the lowest (0·7 (95 % CI 0·6, 0·8) μg/d and 55·8 (95 % CI 51·0, 61·0) nmol/l, respectively). The magnitude of difference in 25(OH)D concentrations between meat eaters and vegans was smaller (20 %) among those participants who had a blood sample collected during the summer months (July–September) compared with the winter months (38 %; January–March). The prevalence of low plasma concentrations of 25(OH)D (<25 nmol/l) during the winter and spring ranged from <1 % to 8 % across the diet groups.

Conclusions Plasma 25(OH)D concentrations were lower in vegetarians and vegans than in meat and fish eaters; diet is an important determinant of plasma 25(OH)D in this British population.

(Received April 07 2010)

(Accepted July 16 2010)

(Online publication September 21 2010)

Correspondence

c1 Corresponding author: Email francesca.crowe@ceu.ox.ac.uk

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