Vegans are at higher risk of getting fractures than meat eaters and vegetarians, according to a study from Oxford University. The researchers concluded that in 1,000 people, 4.1 more fractures occurred in vegetarians and 19.4 more fractures occurred in vegans over a period of 10 years.
For the study, nearly 55,000 healthy individuals answered a questionnaire related to diet, socio-demographic characteristics, lifestyle and their medical history between 1993 and 2001. The researchers classified the respondents based on diet, namely: meat eaters, fish eaters (pescotarians), vegetarians (no meat and fish, but dairy and/or eggs) and vegans (no animal products).
Compared to meat eaters, vegans have a lower calcium and protein intake and are therefore on average 43 percent more likely to get hip, legs and vertebrae fractures. Vegetarians and pescotarians have a higher risk of hip fractures. Protein and calcium are the two main building blocks of bone.
The BMI (Body Mass Index) could also play a role, according to the researchers. Vegans and vegetarians generally have a lower BMI, as was the case in this study. A lower BMI can in some cases also be associated with getting fractures.
There is one caveat: the research is not entirely representative. For example, mainly white European women took part. Due to the limited reflection, the results cannot be generalized to other populations. Further research is therefore required.