(RxWiki News) Vegans -- individuals who don't eat animal products, including dairy -- may be prone to atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries, according to a new study.
Followers of a strict vegan diet may also be at higher risk of developing blood clots. Both atherosclerosis and blood clots increase risk of heart attack and stroke.
Study author Duo Li said meat-eaters are known for having considerably higher risk factors for heart disease than vegetarians, but vegans may not be immune to heart disease since their diets lack several key nutrients, including: iron, zinc, vitamin B12, and omega-3 fatty acids. Because vegans lack these nutrients, vegans tend to have elevated blood levels of homocysteine and decreased levels of HDL, the "good" form of cholesterol, both of which are contributing factors for cardiovascular disease.
The study suggests that vegans and vegetarians should increase their dietary omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B12 to combat those risks. Dietary supplements can provide these vital nutrients.
Other sources of omega 3 fatty acids include salmon and other oily fish and walnuts. Vitamin B12 is prevalent in seafood, eggs and fortified milk.