Protein dietary reference intakes may be inadequate for vegetarians if low amounts of animal protein are consumed

Megan A. Kniskern, Carol Johnston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objective: The health benefits of vegetarian diets are well-recognized; however, long-term adherence to these diets may be associated with nutrient inadequacies, particularly vitamins B12 and D, calcium, iron, zinc, and protein. The dietary reference intakes (DRIs) expert panels recommended adjustments to the iron, zinc, and calcium DRIs for vegetarians to account for decreased bioavailability, but no adjustments were considered necessary for the protein DRI under the assumption that vegetarians consume about 50% of protein from animal (dairy/egg) sources. This study examined dietary protein sources in a convenience sample of 21 young adult vegetarian women who completed food logs on 4 consecutive days (3 weekdays and 1 weekend day). Methods: The daily contribution percentages of protein consumed from cereals, legumes, nuts/seeds, fruits/vegetables, and dairy/egg were computed, and the protein digestibility corrected amino acid score of the daily diets was calculated. Results: The calculated total dietary protein digestibility score for participants was 82 ± 1%, which differed significantly (P < 0.001) from the DRI reference score, 88%, and the 4-d average protein digestibility corrected amino acid score for the sample was 80 ± 2%, which also differed significantly (P < 0.001) from the DRI reference value, 100%. The analyses indicated that animal protein accounted for only 21% of dietary protein. Conclusion: This research suggests that the protein DRI for vegetarians consuming less than the expected amounts of animal protein (45% to 50% of total protein) may need to be adjusted from 0.8 to about 1.0 g/kg to account for decreased protein bioavailability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)727-730
Number of pages4
JournalNutrition
Volume27
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2011

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Recommended Dietary Allowances
Proteins
Dietary Proteins
Biological Availability
Ovum
Zinc
Vegetarians
Iron
Vegetarian Diet
Diet
Calcium
Amino Acids
Food
Nuts
Insurance Benefits
Vitamin B 12
Fabaceae
Vitamin D
Vegetables
Young Adult

Keywords

  • Protein digestibility corrected amino acid score
  • Vegetarian diets

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

Cite this

Protein dietary reference intakes may be inadequate for vegetarians if low amounts of animal protein are consumed. / Kniskern, Megan A.; Johnston, Carol.

In: Nutrition, Vol. 27, No. 6, 06.2011, p. 727-730.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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