Vegetarians At Greater Risk For Bone Fractures Than Meat Eaters – New Research Shows

KEY POINTS

  • Plant-based diets have been hailed as most healthy, but new research shows that's not entirely true.
  • Research shows vegetarians may be at greater risk for bone fractures than meat eaters.
  • Vegetarians have lower bone mineral density than non-vegetarians making them to be more fracture-prone.

Vegans and vegetarians may be at greater risk for bone fractures than meat eaters, according to new research.

A longitudinal study published Sunday in the journal BMC Medicine has poked hole in common assumption that plant-based diet is the most healthy.

Factors such as inadequate intake of calcium and protein, which is associated with plant-based diet, can make bones more fracture-prone.

Earlier studies have shown that vegetarians have lower bone mineral density than non-vegetarians.

Bone density is a measure of the amount of minerals (mostly calcium and phosphorus) contained in a certain volume of bone.

Vegetarians have substantially lower intakes of dietary calcium and protein compared to meat eaters.

“This is the first comprehensive study and the largest study to date to look at the risks of both total fractures (fractures occurring anywhere in the body) and fractures at different sites in people of different habitual dietary habits,” said the study’s lead author, Tammy Tong.

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The authors of the study note that in comparison to meat eaters, vegans with lower calcium and protein intakes on average had a 43% higher risk of fractures anywhere and in the hips, legs and vertebrae.

The conclusions from the new research however can not be applied to all races as most participants of the study were mostly white European and women.

“The results from this, given the limited participants, cannot be generalized to … other populations and further study is needed,” said Katherine Tucker, a professor of nutritional epidemiology at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, who wasn’t involved in the study.

The other limitation of the study is that researchers didn’t note what happens if vegetarians take any calcium supplementation.

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