Posted on 11 November 2022
Does not eating meat cause osteoporosis?
Millions of us choose to go vegetarian or vegan to protect our health and the planet. The question we all want to be answered is: Does not eating meat cause osteoporosis? Let’s look at the evidence and find out.
Do vegetarians have low bone density?
You may have seen some research on social media that says vegetarian women are more likely to experience a hip fracture than those who eat meat.
Analysis by Oxford University academics found women who don’t eat meat are slightly more likely to experience a fracture.
It’s a worrying stat, but it doesn’t mean all of Britain’s 1 million vegetarians and vegans have low bone density.
There are over 1 million vegetarians and vegans in the UK. Not every vegetarian will develop osteoporosis. A 2020 evidence review (where scientists study all research into a subject) found that vegetarians are at no greater risk of experiencing bone health problems.
But to keep bones strong and healthy, vegetarians and vegans need to get enough calcium and vitamin D to protect their bone health.
Does a vegetarian diet cause osteoporosis?
There is no evidence to suggest that vegetarian diets cause osteoporosis. As long as you eat a diet rich in vitamins and minerals and full of fresh fruit, vegetables and protein-packed pulses, you should be OK.
However, vegetarians and vegans may need some extra help to get all the protein, vitamins, and minerals they need.
We’re working on an eating guide for better bones, where we’ll go into greater detail. But basically, every vegetarian and vegan should get enough of these essential vitamins to maintain stronger bones:
While you can get all these essential vitamins by spending time in the sunshine and eating a varied diet, but it can be a struggle for those who don’t eat meat.
It’s important that those following a vegetarian or vegan diet work hard to ensure they’re getting enough of each of these bone-building supplements.
I’m a vegetarian. Should I take supplements to improve bone health?
It’s 100% your choice. If you’re getting enough of your essential bone-building vitamins, including vitamin D and calcium from your diet, then you don’t need to.
You can find calcium in a range of foods, including (of course) dairy, such as cheese and yoghurt, as well as in fortified foods (those with added vitamins).
Obviously, vegans may find it harder to get the calcium they need, but you can find it in kale, mustard greens, turnip greens, watercress, broccoli, and chickpeas.
Vitamin D deficiency is highly prevalent in the UK, with estimates suggesting that 1-in-4 of us isn’t getting enough vitamin D. It’s why the NHS recommends we all take a vitamin D supplement during spring, autumn, and winter when there’s limited sunlight.
What supplements should I take to improve my bone health?
We’ve written quite extensively on essential bone health supplements. But, if you don’t want to wade through the science, people worried about the health of their bones should ensure they’re getting enough of the following vitamins and minerals:
Are supplements vegetarian- and vegan-friendly?
We know that vegetarians and vegans want to know where their supplements come from. Not all supplements are 100% vegetarian- or vegan-friendly. Before buying, you’ll need to do some research and check out the labels.
Every supplement for sale in the Stronger Bones shop is labelled so you can clearly see suitable supplements.
If you’ve ever got a question about the ingredients in any supplement, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll answer immediately with the information you need.