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High risk of bone fractures for vegetarian, vegan people, study reveals – BusinessLine

A new study claimed that a vegetarian or vegan diet should include vital nutrients, including calcium, B12 vitamin, zinc, iron, or else people can face bone fractures.

According to a study published in the journal of BMC (BIOMED CENTRAL), people who practice vegetarianism or veganism, and people who eat fish but not meat lack calcium and protein required by the body.

These people have a 43 per cent higher risk of bone fractures (total) as well as higher risks of site-specific fractures of the hips, legs, and vertebrae, compared with people who ate meat.

Dr Tammy Tong, Nutritional Epidemiologist at the Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford, and the lead author said: “We found that vegans had a higher risk of total fractures which resulted in close to 20 more cases per 1,000 people over a 10-year period compared to people who ate meat. The risks in vegans were 2.3 times higher than in people who ate meat, equivalent to 15 more cases per 1,000 people over 10 years.”

Sample size

For the study, a team of researchers at the Universities of Oxford and Bristol, UK analysed data from nearly 55,000 people in the EPIC-Oxford study. These people were recruited between 1993 and 2001, many of whom do not eat meat.

The researchers observed them over a period of time to understand how certain factors like diet may affect certain outcomes including fracture risk.

Out of the 54,898 participants included in the present study, 29,380 ate meat, 8,037 ate fish but not meat, 15,499 were vegetarians, and 1,982 were vegans at the time they were recruited.

The researchers examined their dietary habits again in 2010. These candidates were observed continuously for 18 years on average, until 2016 for the occurrence of fractures, the researchers mentioned.

The findings of the study revealed that a total of 3,941 fractures were reported, including 566 arms, 889 wrists, 945 hips, 366 legs, 520 ankles, and 467 fractures at other main sites (clavicle, ribs, and vertebrae).

Tong said: “This study showed that vegans, who on average had lower BMI as well as lower intakes of calcium and protein than meat-eaters, had higher risks of fractures at several sites. Well-balanced and predominantly plant-based diets can result in improved nutrient levels and have been linked to lower risks of diseases including heart disease and diabetes.”

The limitation of their study was that they did not consider fractures that occurred by a fall from standing height and those that were caused by accidents.

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