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IRON AND VITAMIN B12 SUFFICIENCY IN VEGETARIAN CHILDREN: CROSS-SECTIONAL CONTROLLED STUDY OF CHILDREN IN TERMS OF THE QUALITY OF LIFE


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Abstract

Introduction. Vegetarian diet restricts or excludes different products of an animal origin. Iron and vitamin B12 deficiency is most common in vegetarians. Therefore following a vegetarian diet is associated with nutritional risks, especially in children. Thus, failure or inadequate consumption of iron and vitamin B12 may cause a delay in development and neurological and cognitive disorders. Materials and methods. The study included 310 children aged 1-17 years consuming vegetarian diets (n=158) and non-vegetarian diet (n=152). The level of iron, vitamin B12 and homocysteine were measured in blood samples. Moreover, we assessed iron and vitamin B12 intake in vegetarian children. Results Anemia was detected in 29.1% of vegetarian children and only in 10% of non-vegetarian children. There was no correlation with the type of vegetarian diet. Vitamin B12 deficiency was detected in 29.7% vegetarian children, which is more frequent than in non-vegetarian children - 3.3% (p<0.01). Conclusion Our study showed poor sufficiency of iron and vitamin B12 in vegetarian children. It is associated with extremely low knowledge about planning an adequate diet and the need for supplementation. Therefore, there is a necessity to raise knowledge about vegetarian diets in parents and pediatricians.


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