This is the worst diet for your bones, new study suggests

This is the worst diet for your bones, new study suggests

While there are lots of benefits to going vegetarian or vegan – including the boost to your immune system, improving heart health, potentially extending your life expectancy, and all the moral arguments for passing on meat – there are downsides to the meatless diet as well.

A new longitudinal study  from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) at Oxford University has found that people who don’t eat meat, especially vegans, are at a significantly higher risk for bone fractures.

Looking at medical records of almost 55,000 healthy individuals—a mix of meat eaters, pescatarians, vegetarians, and vegans—over an average of 18 years, the researchers identified 3,941 bone fractures.


Out of these fractures, vegans with lower calcium and protein intakes sustained 43% more bone fractures than meat eaters.

Now if you’re already vegan or vegetarian, don’t cover yourself in bubble wrap just yet. There’s lots you can do to keep your bone health strong – supplements for frequently-missed nutrients like calcium and protein are key to a healthy vegan diet.

“Unless they are actively supplementing, it’s quite unlikely that vegans will have a sufficient intake of calcium just from the diet,” says lead study author Tammy Tong.

Related: Are you worrying away your bone health?

In fact, the disparity between the amount of fractures decreased significantly when researchers took into account the different levels of calcium and protein in participants’ diets and factored in their BMI (vegans tend to have lower BMIs, which can increase fracture risk.)

So if your diet is light on meat, making sure that you get enough protein and calcium and that you keep your weight up in the healthy range can seriously improve your bone health.

Photo Credit: Foxys Forest Manufacture/; Anna Shepulova/

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