There are many causes an individual may select to go vegetarian. For instance, many individuals are selecting plant-based diets for environmental and moral causes. One other main cause individuals select to go vegetarian is due to the hype round its potential well being advantages.
Certainly, there’s some proof that vegetarian diets are linked to decrease danger of diabetes, heart problems and most cancers. However there are additionally rising considerations about poor bone well being and better danger of fracture in vegetarians and vegans.
Earlier research have proven vegetarians have decrease bone mineral density. However little analysis has explored whether or not vegetarians are at larger danger of sure fractures – particularly hip fractures. This is likely one of the most typical kinds of fracture, and likewise disproportionately impacts girls.
Our analysis sought to deal with this analysis hole. We discovered that ladies who adopted a vegetarian weight loss program have been at a 33% greater danger of hip fracture in contrast with those that frequently ate meat.
Danger of hip fracture
We carried out a large-scale evaluation of weight loss program and hip fracture danger utilizing knowledge from the UK Girls’s Cohort Examine. The cohort consists of 35,000 UK-based girls (aged 35-69 years outdated, the vast majority of whom have been white) who accomplished a questionnaire about their weight loss program and life-style between 1995 and 1998. We linked this knowledge with contributors’ hospital data over roughly 20 years to establish who had a hip fracture.
We then grouped the ladies as common meat eaters (ate meat greater than 5 instances every week), occasional meat eaters (ate meat lower than 5 instances every week), pescatarians (ate fish however not meat) or vegetarians (didn’t eat meat or fish). Vegans have been included within the vegetarian group as there weren’t sufficient vegans to check them individually.
Our analyses additionally took into consideration different elements which can affect hip fracture danger – together with age, alcohol consumption, smoking, train habits, menopausal standing and socioeconomic standing.
In contrast with common meat eaters, vegetarians had a better danger of hip fracture. Nevertheless, there was no elevated danger in pescatarians or occasional meat eaters.
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Our findings largely agree with outcomes from the one different two research on this matter. One 2020 examine confirmed that vegetarians (each women and men) have been at a 25% larger danger of hip fracture in contrast with meat eaters. Equally, in 2021 a US examine confirmed vegetarians have been at a 17% larger danger of hip fracture in contrast with non-vegetarians (although this examine was not statistically vital).
One other examine really confirmed diets with a excessive consumption of fruit and veggies might lower danger of hip fractures, however this evaluation didn’t particularly have a look at vegetarian diets.
Lowering your danger
Whereas there’s an rising quantity of proof displaying vegetarians have poorer bone well being (which in flip results in greater danger of hip fracture), it’s nonetheless unclear what’s driving this greater danger.
Additional analysis is required to establish elements accountable. However within the meantime, listed here are three evidence-based issues you are able to do to decrease your danger of hip fracture:
1. Preserve a wholesome weight
Earlier research have proven physique mass index (BMI) is decrease in vegetarians. Whereas a decrease BMI is helpful for a lot of well being situations, being underweight may also result in poorer bone and muscle well being – each of which might improve hip fracture danger.
Having much less physique fats means much less cushioning throughout falls, which is a number one reason for hip fractures. Low muscle mass within the hip flexor and backbone extensor muscle tissues may also improve danger of falls and hip fracture, doubtlessly by lowering steadiness and mobility. Low bone mineral density is extra seemingly in people who find themselves underweight, and considerably will increase hip fracture danger.
This is the reason sustaining a wholesome weight may very well be key in stopping fractures in vegetarians. However additional analysis is required on the interaction between weight loss program, BMI and hip fracture danger to substantiate this.
2. Plan your weight loss program
Meat and fish are good sources of a number of vitamins vital for bone well being – resembling protein, vitamin B12, vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, phosphorus and zinc.
Whereas it’s attainable to get most of those vitamins from plant sources, eggs and dairy merchandise, earlier research have discovered decrease intakes of those vitamins in vegetarians. In our examine, vegetarians had the bottom intakes of protein and vitamin B12, and have been much less prone to get sufficient protein basically in contrast with common meat eaters.
Vegetarians might subsequently must pay extra consideration to the quantity of those vitamins they get – notably protein – to take care of wholesome bones. Consuming loads of fruit and veggies, nuts, legumes, beans and wholegrains supplies most vitamins wanted for bone well being. Meat substitutes might present another protein supply.
Consuming meals fortified with key vitamins or taking dietary supplements may also assist vegetarians get sufficient vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids, that are tough to get from plant meals.
3. Lead a typically wholesome life-style
A number of elements alongside weight loss program can assist to cut back hip fracture danger, resembling avoiding smoking and extreme alcohol consumption, in addition to exercising frequently. Resistance train (resembling weight lifting) could also be notably useful because it will increase bone and muscle power.
In fact, vegetarian diets will be good for each you and the planet. However it’s vital to know they might improve your danger of hip fractures. Extra analysis is required to search out out why, however sustaining a wholesome weight, consuming a balanced weight loss program and protecting energetic can all assist scale back this danger.
Janet Cade has acquired funding from analysis councils and charities for analysis. She is a director of Dietary Evaluation Ltd.
James Webster doesn’t work for, seek the advice of, personal shares in or obtain funding from any firm or group that will profit from this text, and has disclosed no related affiliations past their educational appointment.
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