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Prevalence of Inadequacy of Micronutrient Intake in a Sample of Vegetarian and Non-Vegetarian Female Adolescents in New Zealand †

Department of Human Nutrition, University of Otago, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand
Biostatistics Centre, University of Otago, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Presented at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the Nutrition Society of New Zealand 2022, Wellington, New Zealand, 1–2 December 2022.
Med. Sci. Forum 2023, 18(1), 29;
Published: 30 March 2023


Appropriately planned vegetarian diets can be nutritionally adequate; however, without careful planning, some nutrients may be at risk of inadequacy, especially in adolescence, when energy and nutrient requirements are higher relative to body mass. The aim of this study was to compare intakes of at-risk micronutrients in a group of New Zealand female adolescents consuming vegetarian and non-vegetarian diets. A cross-sectional Survey of Nutrition, Dietary Assessment and Lifestyle (SuNDiAL project) was conducted among females aged 15 to 18 years, recruited from across NZ. Data were collected via an online questionnaire, and anthropometric measurements were taken to determine body mass index (BMI; kg/m2). Energy and dietary intake of calcium, iron, zinc, selenium, folate, vitamin A and vitamin B12 (B12) were determined using two 24 h recalls, adjusted to reflect usual intake. In total, 254 adolescents provided dietary intake data, comprising 38 self-identified vegetarians. The majority of the participants were NZ European and Other (NZEO) (78%), lived in neighbourhoods of low to medium deprivation (81.5%), and were a healthy weight (66.5%). Across the total sample, more than 80% did not meet the recommended intake for calcium, with values of 71% for selenium and 58% for folate. Dietary intakes among vegetarians were significantly lower than non-vegetarians, resulting in a higher prevalence of inadequacy for zinc (42% vs. 19%), selenium (92% vs. 67%) and vitamin B12 (40% vs. 16%), respectively. Vegetarians were six times more likely to have inadequate selenium intake, at a three-times-greater risk of having inadequate zinc intake and four times more likely to not meet the recommendations for B12 intake compared to non-vegetarians. In conclusion, adolescents had inadequate intakes of calcium, selenium and folate, whereas vegetarian adolescents had suboptimal intakes of selenium, zinc and B12, leading to an increased risk of deficiency.

Author Contributions

Conceptualization, M.P., J.H., R.B. and L.H.; methodology, M.P. and J.H.; formal analysis, J.H.; investigation, M.P., J.H. and C.R.; resources, M.P. and L.H.; data curation, J.H., C.R., K.W. and E.F.; writing—original draft preparation, C.R.; writing—review and editing, C.R., M.P., T.S., E.F., K.W., R.B., L.H. and J.H.; supervision, M.P., J.H., L.H. and C.S.; project administration, T.S.; funding acquisition, L.H. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.


This research was funded by a Lotteries Health Research Grant, grant number R-LHR-2019102520.

Institutional Review Board Statement

The study was conducted in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki and approved by the University of Otago Human Ethics Committee (Health) (H19/004; 4 February 2019).

Informed Consent Statement

Informed consent was obtained from all subjects involved in the study.

Data Availability Statement

Data is available upon reasonable request from the corresponding author.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.
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MDPI and ACS Style

Ranasinghe, C.; Peddie, M.; Smith, C.; Scott, T.; Fleming, E.; Webster, K.; Brown, R.; Haszard, J.; Houghton, L. Prevalence of Inadequacy of Micronutrient Intake in a Sample of Vegetarian and Non-Vegetarian Female Adolescents in New Zealand. Med. Sci. Forum 2023, 18, 29.

AMA Style

Ranasinghe C, Peddie M, Smith C, Scott T, Fleming E, Webster K, Brown R, Haszard J, Houghton L. Prevalence of Inadequacy of Micronutrient Intake in a Sample of Vegetarian and Non-Vegetarian Female Adolescents in New Zealand. Medical Sciences Forum. 2023; 18(1):29.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Ranasinghe, Chaya, Meredith Peddie, Claire Smith, Tessa Scott, Elizabeth Fleming, Kirsten Webster, Rachel Brown, Jillian Haszard, and Lisa Houghton. 2023. "Prevalence of Inadequacy of Micronutrient Intake in a Sample of Vegetarian and Non-Vegetarian Female Adolescents in New Zealand" Medical Sciences Forum 18, no. 1: 29.

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