Young vegans may be missing out on certain nutrients, according to a new study by Swedish scientists. Because vegans avoid all animal products, they may get too little of certain nutrients found in meat and dairy products, such as calcium and vitamin B12. Such deficiencies are of particular concern when it comes to growing teens.

The researchers interviewed 30 vegans between the ages of 16 and 20 about their daily food intake. They also analyzed blood and urine samples for the presence of nutrients. The results were compared to a similar group of meat-eating adolescents.

Specifically, vegans had dietary intakes lower than the average requirements of riboflavin (a B vitamin), vitamin B-12, vitamin D, calcium and selenium. Even after the researchers included dietary supplements in their analysis, the vegans' intake of calcium and selenium remained low. However, the investigators found that vegans had higher intakes of vegetables, legumes and dietary supplements.

Among the men, vegans tended to weigh less and have a lower body mass index, a ratio of weight in relation to height. There was no such difference between female vegans and meat eaters, however.

It is important for teenagers in general, especially vegetarians, to receive knowledge about how to combine and prepare a healthy diet.

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