Vegan Women are at Higher Risk of Bone Fractures
A British study warns that this group suffers 33% more hip fractures than those who eat meat
The results of a health and lifestyle follow-up study of more than 26,000 women in the UK has put the spotlight back on the impact that vegan and vegetarian diets can have on women’s bone health.
In the more than two decades that this large group of women was tracked, 3% of the participants broke their hip and, according to the research team that analyzed the data, the risk of suffering this fracture among vegetarian women was 33% higher than among those who ate meat at least five times a week. However, the risk did not vary much between those who ate meat as often and those who ate less or only ate fish.
Bone health is especially relevant for women, because bone loss accelerates during perimenopause and the early years of menopause due to falling estrogen levels.
“It seems that the bone health of vegans and vegetarians can be affected by the lack of some micronutrients such as vitamin D and B12, which are the most deficient in this type of diet, but also by other factors, such as their body composition” explains Dr. Ballesta.
And he points out that people who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet tend to have a lower body mass index and that also increases the risk of fractures because they have less fat mass and less muscle mass that protects the bones.
Remember that vitamin B12 is of animal origin, so vegans should always take it via vitamin supplements, since its lack can affect the nervous system and is related to bone health problems and anemia. In the case of vegetarians, Ballesta advises that they consume plenty of dairy and eggs to provide themselves with calcium, vitamin D and vitamin B12.
But neither Ballesta nor the authors of the British study believe that the solution is to abandon vegetarianism or veganism, since there is also research associating this type of diet with improvements in health in aspects such as lower cardiovascular risk or fewer metabolic diseases.