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14 Jun 2012

San team help debunk myths about clinical deficiencies in vegetarian diets

The San’s Pathology Director Dr Bevan Hokin and San Nutrition and Dietetics Manager Carol Zeuschner have co-written a paper, which in conjunction with other published studies, reveals the health benefits of a vegetarian diet.
Work undertaken by San Haematologist Dr Jenny Posen also contributed to the studies published in the Medical Journal of Australia last week.
The widely reported key finding debunks myths about clinical deficiencies of vegetarian diets.
Widely reported in the national media last week, the publication of the Australian first study “Is a Vegetarian Diet adequate?” in the Medical Journal of Australia proves that a vegetarian diet provides adequate nutrition to adults and children and can also reduce health problems.
The Australian first scientific reviews show that people who consume plant based diets are receiving adequate levels of protein, iron and zinc and are less likely to develop heart disease, colorectal cancer, type-2 diabetes and obesity.
An accompanying editorial to the research papers by well-known Nutritionist Dr Rosemary Stanton, says the scientific evidence shows a well-planned, plant-based diet can meet the nutritional needs of adults and children.
The study was also prompted by the increase in the number of people who are looking to reduce their intake of meat understanding that not everyone needs to or wants to become vegetarian, but might like to reduce their dependence on meat for their own health.
Until now it has been believed that those who don't eat fish may be receiving less Omega-3 fatty acids than nutritionally required. These studies however show that vegetarians don't exhibit signs of a clinical deficiency.
Dr Hokin and Ms Zeuschner report that vitamin B12 is almost exclusively consumed in animal products, therefore, vegans (who avoid all animal products) and any vegetarians who limit their intake of dairy or eggs need to be sure to include fortified foods or supplements in their diet. 
In 2010, a Newspoll Survey (conducted by Sanitarium Health and Wellbeing) found that 7 out of 10 Australians are eating more plant based meals than previously, in the belief that eating less meat improves your health.
Rosemary Stanton says the average meat-eating Australian consumes significantly more protein than required, and the study almost certainly proves it is not necessary to eat meat daily.
The study was also prompted by the increase in the number of people who are looking to reduce their intake of meat for both health and sustainability.

Click here to read the collection of papers published by Medical Journal of Australia.

Click here for a full analysis of meal plans for all age groups.



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