An 18-year study by the University of Oxford found that vegans were more likely to suffer bone fractures than meat eaters. What does this mean and should vegans be concerned?
The study was well devised and yet it had limitations. For example, the authors admit that they did not look at vitamin D intake – an essential nutrient for bone health. The researchers also did not investigate whether the vegans were simply more adventurous and / or more environmentally aware and so took part in activities that were more likely to lead to fractures – such as skydiving or cycling.
The researchers accepted that part of the problem was because vegans tend to have a lower BMI. This means there is less ‘cushioning’ should they fall or have an accident. Dr Josh Cullimore, a GP from Brighton says: “Health is often a trade-off. We’ve seen that with coronavirus and mental health. And while being vegan reduces the risk of some serious diseases including heart disease, strokes, high blood pressure, obesity, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers, it’s not a super-power or a get-out-of-jail-free card. With it comes a lower BMI and that can raise the risk of fractures.”
Dr Cullimore also says that when this study began, far fewer foods were fortified with calcium and vitamin D and believes that it is easier to get those nutrients now.
This study is a timely reminder to all of us that we must pay attention to the nutrients we eat. Eating vegan / plant-based does lower risks for some of the most serious diseases but we must ensure we get sufficient protein, calcium and vitamin D to protect our bone health, too.
We’d encourage anyone thinking about going vegan to register with Veganuary so that we can share the best nutritional advice to help keep you fighting fit.