Differences between Vegetarians and the General Population Vegetarians also tend to differ from the general population in ways not related to diet intake.
Health Benefits of being a vegetarian A number of studies dating back to the 1950s have been done to examine diet-disease associations and many of these looked specifically at the effects of a vegetarian diet on health.
These studies focused primarily on prevalent conditions that have high mortality and morbidity, including different cancers, heart disease, and diabetes .
Given attributes of this study population it is important to keep in mind that research findings may not be generalizable to other vegetarian populations.
Vegetarian versus Non-Vegetarian diets Vegetarian diets, given their restricted nature, are different from omnivore, non-vegetarian diets in many ways.
A review of vegetarian diets based on ten studies found that vegetarians had lower intake than omnivores for only a few nutrients: vitamins B-12 and C, calcium and zinc .
Overall conclusions were that vegetarian diets can be nutritionally adequate.
This may also not reflect the non-vegetarian diets of other populations of the world.
And finally, I should mention something about vegetarian study subjects.
Any nutritional deficits can be addressed by taking supplements, eating fortified foods, or preparing and combining foods to enhance absorption of vitamins and minerals (for example, soaking and sprouting beans and grains, or taking iron or zinc-rich foods with fruits rich in vitamin C to enhance iron and zinc absorption) .
B-12 is of particular concern to vegetarians, especially vegans, as there is no unfortified plant food that contains any significant amounts of it .
B-12 is found in dairy foods and eggs so ovo-lacto vegetarians generally consume adequate amounts.