Replacing dietary animal-source proteins with plant-source proteins changes dietary intake and status of vitamins and minerals in healthy adults: a 12-week randomized controlled trial

Tiina Pellinen, Essi Päivärinta, Jarkko Isotalo, Mikko Lehtovirta, Suvi T. Itkonen, Liisa Korkalo, Maijaliisa Erkkola, Anne Maria Pajari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: A shift towards more plant-based diets promotes both health and sustainability. However, controlled trials addressing the nutritional effects of replacing animal proteins with plant proteins are lacking. We examined the effects of partly replacing animal proteins with plant proteins on critical vitamin and mineral intake and statuses in healthy adults using a whole-diet approach. Methods: Volunteers aged 20–69 years (107 female, 29 male) were randomly allocated into one of three 12-week intervention groups with different dietary protein compositions: ANIMAL: 70% animal-source protein/30% plant-source protein; 50/50: 50% animal/50% plant; PLANT: 30% animal/70% plant; all with designed protein intake of 17 E%. We analysed vitamin B-12, iodine, iron, folate, and zinc intakes from 4-day food records, haemoglobin, ferritin, transferrin receptor, folate, and holotranscobalamin II from fasting blood samples, and iodine from 24-h urine. Results: At the end point, vitamin B-12 intake and status were lower in PLANT than in 50/50 or ANIMAL groups (P ≤ 0.007 for all). Vitamin B-12 intake was also lower in 50/50 than in ANIMAL (P < 0.001). Iodine intake and status were lower in both 50/50 and PLANT than in ANIMAL (P ≤ 0.002 for all). Iron and folate intakes were higher in PLANT than in ANIMAL (P < 0.001, P = 0.047), but no significant differences emerged in the respective biomarkers. Conclusions: Partial replacement of animal protein foods with plant protein foods led to marked decreases in the intake and status of vitamin B-12 and iodine. No changes in iron status were seen. More attention needs to be paid to adequate micronutrient intakes when following flexitarian diets. Clinical trial registry: NCT03206827; registration date: 2017–06-30.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1391–1404
Number of pages14
JournalEUROPEAN JOURNAL OF NUTRITION
Volume61
Issue number3
Early online date2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • Animal-based foods
  • Flexitarian diet
  • Group B vitamins
  • Iodine status
  • Iron status
  • Plant-based foods

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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