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Vegans at a higher risk of bone fractures: Study

Recent research has claimed that vegans and vegetarians are at a higher risk of bone fractures.

According to a recent study published in the journal BMC Medicine, vegans may be at greater risk for bone fractures than meat-eaters. Factors such as low body mass index, low physical activity, and inadequate intake of calcium and protein could make bones more fracture-prone.

Fractures in adulthood and older ages are common, but previous studies have shown that vegetarians have lower bone mineral density than non-vegetarians.  Substantially lower intakes of dietary calcium and protein have also been reported among non-meat eaters.

The associations between vegetarian diets and fracture risks have been unclear until now, the study said. There were 4.1 more cases in vegetarians and 19.4 more cases in vegans for every 1,000 people over a period of 10 years.

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Nearly 55,000 relatively healthy adults from the United Kingdom answered a questionnaire on diet, socio-demographic characteristics, lifestyle, and medical history between 1993 and 2001.  

The authors found 3,941 total fractures by 2016. In comparison to meat-eaters, vegans with lower calcium and protein intakes on average had a 43 percent higher risk of fractures anywhere and in the hips, legs, and vertebrae.

Vegetarians and pescatarians had a higher risk of hip fractures than meat-eaters, but the risk was partly reduced when the researchers considered body mass index and sufficient consumption of calcium and protein. However, the risk was still higher for vegans with those factors taken into account.