Intake and adequacy of the vegan diet. A systematic review of the evidence.
Clinical nutrition (Edinburgh, Scotland). 2021;40(5):3503-3521
Plain language summary
This systematic review investigated vegan diets in the European populations and their adequacy of macro-and micronutrient intake, compared to the recommendations of the World Health Organization. Included were 48 studies and their outcomes regarding protein, carbohydrates, fats and micronutrients summarized. The overall results and their impact on health are discussed in the later sections of the paper. Adequate intake amongst vegans was seen with carbohydrates, fats, Vitamin A, B1, В6, C, E, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, copper and folate. Sodium exceeded recommended intake, whilst protein, Vitamin B2, B3, B12, D, iodine, zinc, calcium, potassium, selenium was of low consumption in a vegan diet. The bioavailability of some nutrients was also acknowledged. In summary, following a vegan diet appears to have positive and negative aspects. A vegan diet profile can contribute to disease prevention with lower incidence rates of obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Yet veganism appears to increase the risk for mental health conditions, bone fractures, immune system impairments, anaemias and deficiencies from low nutrient intake. This review yields a comprehensive overview of the positive and negative health consequences of a vegan diet. It may be a useful reference for those looking to support vegans or individuals considering adopting a vegan diet pattern.
Conflicts of interest:
Vegan diets have become increasingly popular in the last ten years. This systematic review of 48 studies investigated the adequacy of vegan diets in European populations. It compared their macro- and micronutrient intakes compared to World Health Organization recommendations. It found that vegan diets tend to be lower in protein and in essential amino acids (lysine, methionine and tryptophan). They
can also be lower in micronutrients especially vitamin B12, zinc, calcium and selenium. However, the lower intakes are not always associated with health impairments.
Implications for practice:
Practitioners should be aware of the potential deficiencies in a vegan diet.
Implications for research:
More research is needed to determine whether lower nutrient intakes in vegans correlated with poor health outcomes.
BACKGROUND Vegan diets, where animal- and all their by-products are excluded from the diet, have gained popularity, especially in the last decade. However, the evaluation of this type of diet has not been well addressed in the scientific literature. This study aimed to investigate the adequacy of vegan diets in European populations and of their macro- and micronutrient intakes compared to World Health Organization recommendations. METHODS A systematic search in PubMed, Web of Science, IBSS, Cochrane library and Google Scholar was conducted and 48 studies (12 cohorts and 36 cross-sectional) were included. RESULTS Regarding macronutrients, vegan diets are lower in protein intake compared with all other diet types. Veganism is also associated with low intake of vitamins B , Niacin (B ), B , D, iodine, zinc, calcium, potassium, selenium. Vitamin B intake among vegans is significantly lower (0.24-0.49 μg, recommendations are 2.4 μg) and calcium intake in the majority of vegans was below recommendations (750 mg/d). No significant differences in fat intake were observed. Vegan diets are not related to deficiencies in vitamins A, B , Β , C, E, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, copper and folate and have a low glycemic load. CONCLUSIONS Following a vegan diet may result in deficiencies in micronutrients (vitamin B , zinc, calcium and selenium) which should not be disregarded. However, low micro- and macronutrient intakes are not always associated with health impairments. Individuals who consume a vegan diet should be aware of the risk of potential dietary deficiencies.
The impact of nutrition and lifestyle on male fertility.
Archivio italiano di urologia, andrologia : organo ufficiale [di] Societa italiana di ecografia urologica e nefrologica. 2020;92(2)
Plain language summary
The impact of environmental, lifestyle and nutritional factors on unexplained male fertility has long been acknowledged. Yet, little research had been dedicated to the topic, despite declining semen quality having become a worldwide phenomena. Available studies have yielded limited, and at times conflicting, evidence. Hence this literature review sought to capture the current knowledge around unexplained male infertility and environmental, lifestyle, diet and nutrients factors. Summarized is the evidence from 69 studies, including population observations and clinical trials. The collected outcomes showed that a Western-type diet, rich in red and processed meats, refined grains, high-energy drinks and sweets, trans and saturated fats was associated with poor semen quality. Whereby higher intakes of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, omega-3 and poultry showed beneficial effects. However, as only selected groups were examined, more research is needed to project such findings onto the wider population. The reviewed evidence also included alcohol consumption, which showed high alcohol intake closely correlated to declining sperm concentrations. Whilst the verdict on caffeine consumption and the impact on sperm quality was inconclusive. In addition, several interventional studies evaluated the effect of dietary supplementation on various parameters of semen, where coenzyme Q10, L-carnitine, vitamin E, antioxidants, combined nutrient formulations and herbal blends all had positive outcomes. The review on zinc and folic acid supplementation yielded mixed results. This brief recap of the current evidence on environmental, lifestyle and nutritional influences on male infertility summarises the dietary foundations for the support of unexplained male infertility.
BACKGROUND AND AIMS Male unexplained infertility has long been suspected to result from environmental, lifestyle and nutritional factors. However, the literature on the subject is still scarce, and clinical studies providing robust evidence are even scarcer. In addition, some similar studies come to different conclusions. Dietary pattern can influence spermatogenesis by its content of fatty acids and antioxidants. Yet, in an age of industrialized mass food production, human bodies become more exposed to the ingestion of xenobiotics, as well as chemicals used for production, preservation, transportation and taste enhancement of foods. We attempted in this paper to collect the available evidence to date on the effect of nutritional components on male fertility. MATERIAL AND METHODS A systematic search of the relevant literature published in PubMed, ScienceDirect and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials Database was conducted. Literature was evaluated according to the Newcastle-Ottawa- Scale. RESULTS Epidemiological observations are concordant in demonstrating an association of low-quality sperm parameters with higher intake of red meat, processed and organ meat and fullfat dairy. On the contrary, better semen parameters were observed in subjects consuming a healthy diet, rich in fruit, vegetables, whole grains and fish. Evidences of the negative impact on male fertility of by-products of water disinfection, accumulation in food chain of persistent organochlorine pollutants, pesticides, phthalates from food and water containers and hormones used in breeding cattle have been reported. Clinical trials of the effects of micronutrients on semen parameters and outcomes of assisted fertilization are encouraging, although optimal modality of treatment should be established. CONCLUSIONS Although quality of evidence should be ameliorated, it emerges that environmental factors can influence male fertility. Some nutrients may enhance fertility whereas others will worsen it. With diagnostic analysis on a molecular or even sub-molecular level, new interactions with micronutrients or molecular components of our daily ingested foods and leisure drugs may lead to a better understanding of so far suspected but as yet unexplained effects on male spermatogenesis and fertility.
The Effect of a Multivitamin and Mineral Supplement on Immune Function in Healthy Older Adults: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Controlled Trial.
Plain language summary
Vitamins and minerals are essential for a healthy immune system. The prevalence of vitamin and mineral deficiencies increases with age, and this may contribute to age-related decline of the immune system. The aim of this study was to investigate whether a daily multivitamin and mineral (MVM) supplement could improve the immune function of older people. 42 healthy adults aged between 55 and 75 took part in this single-centre, two-armed, parallel, randomised, double-blinded study. Half of the group was given a MVM supplement called Redoxon Vita Immune (VI) containing the vitamins A, D, E, C, B6, B12 and folate plus iron, copper, zinc and selenium daily for 12 weeks, whilst the other half was given placebo tablets for 12 weeks. Participants were instructed to avoid certain foods high in vitamins and minerals such as oily fish, red meat, liver, and citrus fruits during the study period. Blood and saliva samples were taken from all participants at the beginning and end of the study period, to measure vitamin and mineral status and markers of immune function. Participants also kept a diary to record any illnesses or symptoms. At the end of the study, participants given the MVM supplement had increased their blood levels of vitamin C by 126% and zinc by 43%. There was no significant change in blood levels of vitamin D. There was no significant difference in the potential of blood to kill the introduced bacteria Staphylococcus aureus, or in neutrophil activity, nor were there any significant changes in blood levels of cytokines and chemokines. Participants taking the supplement did however report a shorter length, and lower severity of illnesses compared to those taking the placebo. The authors concluded that their findings support further research to test whether MVM supplementation can improve immune outcomes in older adults.
undefined: Older adults are at increased risk for vitamin and mineral deficiencies that contribute to age-related immune system decline. Several lines of evidence suggest that taking a multi-vitamin and mineral supplement (MVM) could improve immune function in individuals 55 and older. To test this hypothesis, we provided healthy older adults with either an MVM supplement formulated to improve immune function (Redoxon VI, Singapore) or an identical, inactive placebo control to take daily for 12 weeks. Prior to and after treatment, we measured (1) their blood mineral and vitamin status (i.e., vitamin C, zinc and vitamin D); (2) immune function (i.e., whole blood bacterial killing activity, neutrophil phagocytic activity, and reactive oxygen species production); (3) immune status (salivary IgA and plasma cytokine/chemokine levels); and (4) self-reported health status. MVM supplementation improved vitamin C and zinc status in blood and self-reported health-status without altering measures of immune function or status or vitamin D levels, suggesting that healthy older adults may benefit from MVM supplementation. Further development of functional assays and larger study populations should improve detection of specific changes in immune function after supplementation in healthy older adults. Clinical Trials Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov #NCT02876315.
Could Vitamins Help in the Fight Against COVID-19?
Plain language summary
Immunonutrition is the role of nutrient supplementation in modulating the immune system. While there are limited approaches to the prevention and treatment of Covid-19, the aim of this review was to critically assess the current evidence to identify vitamins in the context of respiratory disease and extrapolate the evidence to evaluate the role of immunonutrition in Covid-19. Over 200 studies were included in this review to assess the physiological role, therapeutic application in respiratory disease and relevance to Covid-19 of each vitamin. Based on the existing literature, the authors conclude the there is a potential preventative and supportive role for vitamin supplementation in fighting Covid-19, specifically vitamin A, E and D.
There are limited proven therapeutic options for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19. The role of vitamin and mineral supplementation or "immunonutrition" has previously been explored in a number of clinical trials in intensive care settings, and there are several hypotheses to support their routine use. The aim of this narrative review was to investigate whether vitamin supplementation is beneficial in COVID-19. A systematic search strategy with a narrative literature summary was designed, using the Medline, EMBASE, Cochrane Trials Register, WHO International Clinical Trial Registry, and Nexis media databases. The immune-mediating, antioxidant and antimicrobial roles of vitamins A to E were explored and their potential role in the fight against COVID-19 was evaluated. The major topics extracted for narrative synthesis were physiological and immunological roles of each vitamin, their role in respiratory infections, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), and COVID-19. Vitamins A to E highlighted potentially beneficial roles in the fight against COVID-19 via antioxidant effects, immunomodulation, enhancing natural barriers, and local paracrine signaling. Level 1 and 2 evidence supports the use of thiamine, vitamin C, and vitamin D in COVID-like respiratory diseases, ARDS, and sepsis. Although there are currently no published clinical trials due to the novelty of SARS-CoV-2 infection, there is pathophysiologic rationale for exploring the use of vitamins in this global pandemic, supported by early anecdotal reports from international groups. The final outcomes of ongoing trials of vitamin supplementation are awaited with interest.
Selenium, antioxidants, cardiovascular disease, and all-cause mortality: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.
The American journal of clinical nutrition. 2020;112(6):1642-1652
Plain language summary
Oxidative damage is a shared characteristic in chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease (CVD), diabetes, cancer and ageing. Antioxidants mitigate the impact of oxidants and have been widely investigated in ageing and disease. However, the evidence for supplementary antioxidants has been mixed and some authorities have advised against the use of certain single nutrients for the prevention of CVD or cancer. This systematic review and meta-analysis focused on selenium due to its vital role in the antioxidant system and associations of low selenium blood levels with increased risk of CVD, cancers and death. The study included 43 randomised controlled trials (RCTs) evaluating the effect of supplemental selenium and antioxidants with or without selenium and their impact on CVD risk, cancer and all-cause mortality. Overall supplemental selenium or antioxidants alone did not seem to be associated with CVD outcomes, cancer, CVD and cancer mortality, or all-cause mortality. On close examination, a decreased risk was seen for CVD mortality when antioxidants were combined with selenium, whilst antioxidant mixtures without selenium demonstrated an increased risk in all-cause mortality. The findings did not seem to be influenced by dietary selenium intake. The authors suggested that inclusion of selenium as part of an antioxidant mix could be key for an antioxidant associated risk reduction. However, in the absence of further long term studies, a balanced antioxidant-rich diet was advocated as the safest approach. In clinical practice, where antioxidant support beyond diet is warranted, supplemental antioxidant use should be concurrent with adequate selenium supplementation, with dose benefits of 50-200mcg observed.
BACKGROUND Antioxidants have been promoted for cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk reduction and for the prevention of cancer. Our preliminary analysis suggested that only when selenium was present were antioxidant mixtures associated with reduced all-cause mortality. OBJECTIVE We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) to determine the effect of selenium supplementation alone and of antioxidant mixtures with or without selenium on the risk of CVD, cancer, and mortality. METHODS We identified studies using the Cochrane Library, Medline, and Embase for potential CVD outcomes, cancer, and all-cause mortality following selenium supplementation alone or after antioxidant supplement mixtures with and without selenium up to June 5, 2020. RCTs of ≥24 wk were included and data were analyzed using random-effects models and classified by the Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development, and Evaluation approach. RESULTS The meta-analysis identified 9423 studies, of which 43 were used in the final analysis. Overall, no association of selenium alone or antioxidants was seen with CVD and all-cause mortality. However, a decreased risk with antioxidant mixtures was seen for CVD mortality when selenium was part of the mix (RR: 0.77; 95% CI: 0.62, 0.97; P = 0.02), with no association when selenium was absent. Similarly, when selenium was part of the antioxidant mixture, a decreased risk was seen for all-cause mortality (RR: 0.90; 95% CI: 0.82, 0.98; P = 0.02) as opposed to an increased risk when selenium was absent (RR: 1.09; 95% CI: 1.04, 1.13; P = 0.0002). CONCLUSION The addition of selenium should be considered for supplements containing antioxidant mixtures if they are to be associated with CVD and all-cause mortality risk reduction. This trial was registered at https://www.crd.york.ac.uk/PROSPERO/ as CRD42019138268.
Inflammaging and Oxidative Stress in Human Diseases: From Molecular Mechanisms to Novel Treatments.
International journal of molecular sciences. 2019;20(18)
Plain language summary
Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are produced during normal metabolic processes or can be induced by environmental factors. High levels of ROS in the cell can lead to oxidation causing cellular damage and a subsequent increase in inflammation, which is a significant contributor to disease. Age-associated increases in such chronic, low-grade inflammation is also referred to as inflammaging. This review summarizes how inflammaging plays a role in various age-related health conditions. Described are the mechanisms of how ROS and the age-related decline in cellular turn-over and immune activation contribute to the pathology of cardiovascular disease, cancer, neurodegeneration concerning Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. Furthermore, the authors discuss potential treatments that could assist in the management of such inflammaging-related diseases. These include vaccines to stimulate immune activity, stem cell intervention, drugs like metformin, nutritional and nutraceutical supplements like zinc, vitamin E, vitamins C, D, carotenoids, polyphenols and flavonoids like resveratrol, red algae extract and melatonin. Addressed are also general dietary concepts like calorie restriction, the benefits of the Mediterranean diet or a whole foods diet, and the potential of specific plant derived compounds like baicalin and sulforaphanes. The authors also briefly highlight the importance of the gut microbiome, as a poor gut microbiota has been associated with unfavourable age-related immune alterations and overall inflammaging. This review provides a comprehensive resource, detailing the effects and mechanisms of oxidative damage and its contribution to age-related diseases, including a list of interventions to consider when navigating the impact and risks associated with inflammaging.
It has been proposed that a chronic state of inflammation correlated with aging known as inflammaging, is implicated in multiple disease states commonly observed in the elderly population. Inflammaging is associated with over-abundance of reactive oxygen species in the cell, which can lead to oxidation and damage of cellular components, increased inflammation, and activation of cell death pathways. This review focuses on inflammaging and its contribution to various age-related diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis. Recently published mechanistic details of the roles of reactive oxygen species in inflammaging and various diseases will also be discussed. Advancements in potential treatments to ameliorate inflammaging, oxidative stress, and consequently, reduce the morbidity of multiple disease states will be explored.
Functional biochemical and nutrient indices in frail elderly people are partly affected by dietary supplements but not by exercise.
The Journal of nutrition. 1999;129(11):2028-36
Plain language summary
Elderly people are at risk of nutritional deficiencies for a variety of reasons including reduced appetite, increased medication, and alterations in the absorption and metabolism of vitamins and minerals with age. The aim of this study was to measure the influence of exercise, and supplementing the diet with vitamins and minerals, on indicators of nutritional and health status in frail elderly people. A 17-week randomised controlled trial was carried out on 145 frail elderly people living in the community. Participants were given either; 1) food products enriched with vitamins D, E, thiamine, riboflavin, B6, folic acid, B12, calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron and iodine; 2) an exercise programme; 3) both enriched food products and exercise programme; or 4) food products that had not been enriched and a social programme (the control group). At the end of the study, significant improvements in the blood levels of vitamins B6, B12, C and D were detected in the groups receiving the enriched food products compared to the controls. There was no additional benefit to be gained from exercise. The improvement in nutritional status did not appear to influence several other biological indicators of health, perhaps because these indicators were already within normal levels at the start of the study. Despite this, the authors concluded that long-term supplementation may help to maintain optimal vitamin and mineral levels in elderly people, and therefore reduce the chance of this population developing health problems related to malnutrition.
A decline in dietary intake due to inactivity and, consequently, development of a suboptimal nutritional status is a major problem in frail elderly people. However, benefits of micronutrient supplementation, all-round physical exercise or a combination of both on functional biochemical and hematologic indicators of nutritional and health status in frail elderly subjects have not been tested thoroughly. A 17-wk randomized controlled trial was performed in 145 free-living frail elderly people (43 men, 102 women, mean age, 78 +/- 5.7 y). Based on a 2 x 2 factorial design, subjects were assigned to one of the following: 1) nutrient-dense foods, 2) exercise, 3) both (1) and (2) or 4) a control group. Foods were enriched with micronutrients, frequently characterized as deficient [25-100% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA)] in elderly people. Exercises focused on skill training, including strength, endurance, coordination and flexibility. Dietary intake, blood vitamin levels and nutritional and health indicators, including (pre)albumin, ferritin, transferrin, C-reactive protein, hemoglobin and lymphocytes were measured. At baseline, 28% of the total population had an energy intake below 6.3 MJ, up to a maximum of 93% having vitamin intakes below two thirds of the Dutch RDA. Individual deficiencies in blood at baseline ranged from 3% for erythrocyte glutathione reductase-alpha to 39% for 25-hydroxy vitamin D and 42% for vitamin B-12. These were corrected after 17 wk in the two groups receiving the nutrient-dense foods, whereas no significant changes were observed in the control or exercise group. Biochemical and hematologic indicators at baseline were within the reference ranges (mean albumin, 46 g/L; prealbumin, 0.25 g/L; hemoglobin, 8.6 mmol/L) and were not affected by any of the interventions. The long-term protective effects of nutrient supplementation and exercise, by maintaining optimal nutrient levels and thereby reducing the initial chance of developing critical biochemical values, require further investigation. Other indicative functional variables for suboptimal nutritional status, in addition to those currently selected, should also be explored.