A research paper published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry indicates that people on strict vegan diets can suffer from an increased risk of developing blood clots and atherosclerosis (fatty deposits collecting in the arteries resulting in the formation of calcium deposits).
This, the report says, stems from vegans having “lower serium vitamin B12 concentration and n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) levels in the tissue membrane phospholipids”.
The key nutrients found to be missing from a strict vegan diet include zinc, iron, omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin B12. But Due Li, who worked on the study, said that the conclusions of the research did not include vegetarians.
This latest study seems to fly in the face of previous work claiming that a vegan lifestyle lowers cholesterol and is the best diet for cleaning clogged arteries (peta.org/living/vegetarian-living/clogged-arteries.aspx). But in this earlier study patients were also prescribed moderate exercise on top of a vegetarian diet.
Then there is this on ‘Coronary Heart disease and Vegetarian Diet" where it was concluded – “Hence it seems evident, that vegetarianism offers definite protection from coronary heart disease”.
As an omnivore with no in depth dietary knowledge I find these apparent contradictions confusing. But that may stem from a confusion in my mind between vegans and vegetarians, something not simplified when I researched it (try this for example). Because some of the research seemed to use the terms interchangeably it made it difficult to follow. But exact definition may help to pin the research down. i.e. is it a lack of meat or lack of all animal products (milk and eggs as well for example) that is the problem?
But if it does turn out that some vegetarian diets are bad for you does that mean that we will be seeing government health warnings on fruit, veg and salad? "Your health may be at risk if you don't eat meat with this".
Seriously though, every time research is done on diet we find out that what the last study said was wrong. So I'll just keep on doing what I'm doing.