Nutrient Intake Pattern of Vegetarians and Non-Vegetarians in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Y.S. Wong, S. Shalini, M.R. Farah Liana, W.M.S. Wan Nurul Amera, M.Y. Mohd Naqiuddin, A.W. Norhazlina and M.I. Zaleha
Vegetarians adhering to a well-planned diet are assumed to meet nutrient requirements. This study was designed to evaluate the nutrient intake of adult vegetarians and non-vegetarians in Kuala Lumpur. A cross-sectional comparison between three types of diet practices was carried out in Kuala Lumpur, with 35 respondents in each group (non-vegetarian, ovolacto-vegetarian and strict-vegetarian). Anthropometric indices such as weight and body fat composition were measured using TANITA electronic balance scale, while three-day dietary recalls was assessed using a computer dietary analysis software programme, Nutritionist-pro. Statistical analysis had shown non significant difference in the three diet practices with respect to anthropometric indices. The benefits of vegetarian practices were obviously presented in the dietary intake of nutrients. Both ovolacto-vegetarians and strict-vegetarians had significantly higher mean dietary intake of fiber, folate, magnesium, vitamin A and vitamin C than non-vegetarians (p<0.01). Surprisingly, some of the potential nutrient deficiencies among strict-vegetarians such as calcium, iron and zinc achieved the Recommended Nutrient Intakes (RNI) for Malaysia. However, the dietary habits of vegetarians were very heterogeneous and some of them did not comply with the requirements for calcium, iron zinc and vitamin B12. Malaysian vegetarians in this study generally have a better nutrient intake than non-vegetarians. Education on proper meal planning should be implemented among vegetarians to prevent potential nutritional deficiencies.