Veganism can lead to weaker bones, suggests study

According to a new study, vegans are more likely to suffer fractured bones than people who have meat and fish in their diet.

veganism

Do you follow veganism? If yes, then this article is definitely for you and needs your attention. But if you are not a vegan even then I’ll suggest you read this article till the very end in order to understand the benefits of being a meat-eater. According to a newly published study, vegans are more likely to fracture their bones than people with meat and fish in their diets.

No doubt, non-meat diets help you maintain healthy cholesterol, body weight, and blood sugar levels. But these diets, particularly veganism, may also boost your risk of suffering broken bones. As per the claims done by the new research: Vegans, vegetarians and people whose diet mostly consists of veggies are more likely to suffer fractured bones as compared to meat-eaters and tend to have a lower Body Mass Index (BMI).

According to the study conducted by researchers at the Universities of Oxford and Bristol, UK, eating a vegan diet lowers calcium and protein intake, making vegans 43 percent more likely to suffer any type of broken bone. The research also suggested that those on the trendy diet are 2.3 times more likely to break a hip than meat-eaters. 

Usually, fractures are more common in adulthood and older age. But we go according to the new study, then it is suggested that vegetarians have lower bone mineral density than non-vegetarians. While the causes aren’t totally clear, the researchers suggested that because vegans do not consume enough calcium and protein, and having a lower body mass index (BMI), therefore their body becomes more vulnerable to fractures.

This new study is based on the data collected from almost 55,000 people, which included 2,000 vegans. The study is one of the largest studies done to date on the relationship between fractures and non-meat diets. The researchers examined data from the long-running EPIC-Oxford study, which issued health surveys to nearly 55,000 people in the U.K. between 1993 and 2001, and followed up with them in 2010. Also, the researchers also did additional follow-up data in 2016 using National Health Service records.

In order to study the relationship between diet and fracture risk, the researchers divided the participants into four groups: meat eaters, fish eaters, vegetarians, and vegans. After examining other variables such as sex, physical activities, smoking, alcohol intake, and dietary supplement intake, the study found that vegans are 43 percent more likely to suffer any type of broken bone.

Findings of the veganism study:

There are basically two explanations behind the study. The first explanation that the researchers gave to prove the findings of the study is the consumption of less calcium and protein by the non-meat eaters. Scientists believe that a lower intake of calcium and protein by vegans and vegetarians makes their bones weaker and increases the chances of fractures as a lower intake of calcium and proteins lessens the bone mineral density making them vulnerable towards cracking and fractures.

The other explanation given by researchers is body mass index (BMI) as vegetarians and vegans have low BMI. The BMI factor is considered as one important factor in the results as the study suggested that vegans with a low BMI are more likely to suffer from hip fractures. 

Limitations of the study:

The study gave valid explanations but still has some limitations. It is claimed that the researchers didn’t collect precise data on the type of calcium or protein supplementation, diet quality, or causes of fractures to attain the exact results. Also, it is reported that white European women were overrepresented and predominantly included the white population in the sample size studied for the research.

The study was also unable to differentiate between people who suffered fractures from accidents, and those who may have broken their bones because of poor bone health.

Aren’t vegans getting enough calcium from plant-based foods?

It is believed that we lose calcium every day through our skin, nails, hair, sweat, urine, and feces. Therefore, it becomes important for us to get enough calcium from the food we eat. When our body doesn’t get enough calcium that it needs, the body tries to fulfill its calcium requirement by taking the mineral from our bones.  This is fine once in a while, but if it happens too often, bones get weak.

Therefore, in order to fulfill the calcium requirements of the body, vegans and vegetarians can adopt a diet that is rich in calcium. Dark leafy greens and legumes are also among the healthiest sources of calcium.  Soybeans, including soya milk and tofu, also pack in a good amount of calcium.

Author: Mahima Joshi

Mahima Joshi is a writer at The Wonk. She is a postgraduate in Journalism, who is just curious about everything that is happening around. She is an enthusiastic reader especially concerning gender dynamics in mythological stories.

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