Biological Trace Element Research

, Volume 149, Issue 1, pp 34–41 | Cite as

Postmenopausal Vegetarians' Low Serum Ferritin Level May Reduce the Risk for Metabolic Syndrome

  • Mi-Hyun Kim
  • Yun Jung Bae


The present study was conducted to compare the serum ferritin status between the postmenopausal vegetarians and non-vegetarians and to identify the relation of serum ferritin with metabolic syndrome (MetS) risk factors in postmenopausal women. The two study groups consisted of postmenopausal vegetarians (n = 59) who maintained a vegetarian diet for over 20 years and age-matched non-vegetarian controls (n = 48). Anthropometric measurements, dietary intakes, serum metabolic syndrome-related parameters, and serum ferritin level between the two groups were compared. The vegetarians exhibited significantly lower weight (p < 0.01), body mass index (BMI) (p < 0.001), percentage of body fat (p < 0.001), waist circumference (p < 0.01), SBP (p < 0.001), DBP (p < 0.001), and fasting glucose (p < 0.05). According to the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP)—Adult Treatment Panel III criteria for MetS applying Korean guidelines for waist circumference, the prevalence of MetS was lower in vegetarians (33.9 %) than in non-vegetarians (47.9 %). Vegetarians had significantly lower serum level of ferritin (p < 0.01) than non-vegetarians. In the correlation analysis, serum ferritin was positively related to fasting glucose (r = 0.264, p < 0.01), triglycerides (r = 0.232, p < 0.05), and the NCEP score (r = 0.214, p < 0.05) and negatively related to high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (r = −0.225, p < 0.05) after adjusting for BMI, lifestyle, and dietary factors (animal protein, animal fat, and dietary fiber intake). In conclusion, postmenopausal vegetarians had lower MetS presence and a lower serum ferritin level compared to non-vegetarians. Furthermore, vegetarians' low serum ferritin level may reduce the risk of MetS in postmenopausal women.


Serum ferritin Metabolic syndrome Vegetarians Postmenopausal women 



We would like to express our appreciation to Lavon Smith and Glenn Hawes for assistance in manuscript preparation.

Conflict of interest

This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Food and NutritionKangwon National UniversitySamcheokSouth Korea
  2. 2.Department of Food and Nutritional SciencesHanbuk UniversityDongducheonSouth Korea

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