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Vegans at high risk of fractures, studies show

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It has been reported that dietary intake of calcium and protein is significantly lower, even among those who do not eat meat. Despite this previous study, the study states that the link between vegetarian diet and fracture risk was previously unclear.

“This is the first comprehensive study to examine the risk of both total fractures (fractures that occur somewhere in the body) and fractures in different parts of people with different habitual diets, and to date. It’s the biggest study in the study, “said the lead author of the study. Tammy Tong, a nutrition epidemiologist at the Nuffield Department of Population Health at Oxford University, emails me.

For every 1,000 or more people, 4.1 vegetarians and 19.4 vegans increased. 10 year period.

Diet and bone strength

Almost 55,000 relatively healthy adults Respondents from the United Kingdom completed a 1993-2001 questionnaire on diet, socio-demographic characteristics, lifestyle, and medical history. In the diet and 2010 follow-up, researchers found meat eaters, fish eaters (pescatarians), vegetarians (meatless or fish, but dairy and / or eggs) and vegans (from animals). There is no one).
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By 2016, the authors had found a total of 3,941 fractures. Compared to meat eaters, vegans with lower calcium and protein intake had an average 43% higher risk of fractures in the hips, legs, and vertebrae everywhere. Vegetarians and pediatricians were at higher risk of hip fractures than meat eaters, but the risk was partially reduced when researchers considered the classification of obesity index and adequate consumption of calcium and protein. However, taking these factors into account, the risk of vegans was even higher.

“The results of this study support an increase in research on protein and calcium intake and bone health by body mass index (BMI),” said Lauri Wright, a registered dietitian and nutritionist and chair of the university’s Faculty of Nutrition. Says. Northern Florida not involved in the study. “Protein and calcium are the two main components of bone.”

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The limits of the study included that most of the participants were white and female. “Because of the limited number of participants, this result cannot be generalized to other populations and requires further research,” said Catherine Tucker, a professor of nutrition epidemiology at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. .. the study.

The authors also do not have data on calcium supplementation or the causes of fractures, and nutrient intake was self-reported rather than objectively measured.

In addition, the authors said BMI may partially explain the findings. As in this study, vegans and vegetarians tend to have low BMI. Low BMI is associated with fractures in some areas. This may be due to factors such as poor cushioning against the force of a person falling.

Nutritional risk of plant-based diet

Differences in vegan risk remain after considering sufficient BMI, calcium and protein intake (in milligrams), so other factors not investigated, such as differences in animal and plant protein and calcium, It can be important.

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“Most of these things are better absorbed from animal foods,” Tucker said. “Some vegetarians say,’Well, if you look at the food table, I have enough calcium.’ But whole-grain calcium is bound to phytate. , Green leafy vegetables are bound to oxalate. “

Phytates and oxalates are compounds that combine with minerals such as calcium, zinc and iron, so minerals are not easily released and absorbed in the intestines. That is, spinach and other leafy vegetables are rich in calcium, but the oxalates they contain prevent the body from absorbing as much calcium as possible from dairy products.

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The author did not have data on diet quality, but those who eat whole foods, nutritious plant-based diets tend to be better than those who mainly eat processed foods.

“Carnivores usually consume more protein, calcium, and vitamin D, and nutrients are more biologically available (the body can use them), but if dietary choices are inadequate, one is still deficient. “Maybe,” Wright, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Nutrition, was added by email.

“Whether you are a meat eater or a plant eater, deficiency has the same effect on bone health.”

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“The main thing about vegetarians, especially vegans, is that if they don’t contain the product, they need to be very careful about getting the nutrients they lack,” Tucker said. ..

Earlier consensus on protein was that too much acid load increased the load of acid, causing calcium to seep out of the bone and make it brittle. However, recent studies have shown that “the higher the protein (within normal intake), the better for bones.”

Protein is important for bone strength, and UK-based vegetarians and vegans have been reported to have lower lean body mass and grip strength than those who ate meat. This can affect muscles and grip strength. It can affect the risk of falls and therefore the likelihood of fractures.

According to Tucker, getting important nutrients from plants such as protein, calcium, vitamin B12, and vitamin D (essential for calcium absorption) is less than the federal government’s recommendation because plant nutrients are less likely to be absorbed. You need a lot of it.

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Strategically approach non-flesh A diet with the help of a nutritionist Your best bet. “There is a lot of false information on the Internet, so you really have to be careful,” Tucker said.

“Be sure to consult an expert to ensure that you are not only meeting your food table-based needs, but also considering the absorption of these nutrients and complementary proteins.”

Nuts and seeds are rich in nutrients that support magnesium and potassium. Calcium-enriched all-food soy products such as tempeh and soy milk. Corn tortillas; leafy vegetables; legumes; dairy or non-dairy yogurt; milk; high quality cheese is a good choice, Tucker recommends.

Make sure you get enough amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein, from foods such as tofu, tempeh, rice, and beans.

She added that calcium supplements can benefit people with deficiency, but single-ingredient supplements can interfere with overall nutrient absorption at too high a dose. Talk to your doctor or dietitian before taking any supplements.

“Given that low BMI is a risk factor for hip fractures, we should aim to maintain a healthy BMI (neither overweight nor overweight) for everyone,” Tong said. I will.

“The bottom line is that people are looking for answers. Vegetarians and non-vegetarians, or this and that, or if you eat this food and it,” Tucker says. “It’s never about a single food or a single dietary pattern. It’s all about quality.”

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