NutritionFacts.org

Health Topics

  1. #
  2. A
  3. B
  4. C
  5. D
  6. E
  7. F
  8. G
  9. H
  10. I
  11. J
  12. K
  13. L
  14. M
  15. N
  16. O
  17. P
  18. Q
  19. R
  20. S
  21. T
  22. U
  23. V
  24. W
  25. X
  26. Y
  27. Z
Browse All Topics

Long-Term Vegan Bone Health

The bone mineral density of vegans compared to omnivores.

January 12, 2010 |
GD Star Rating
loading...

Topics

Supplementary Info

Sources Cited

Acknowledgements

Transcript

But if we don’t drink milk what happens to our bones? Well, a study published this year answered that question, comparing the bone mineral density of long term vegans to omnivores.
Buddhist nuns, vegan for up to 72 years, versus same age, same height, same weight, same exercise omnivorous women, who because of their dairy consumption ended up getting about twice as much calcium per day as the vegans. Who had stronger bones? Three choices: Vegan stronger, omni stronger, or both the same?
Despite the vastly different calcium intake same bone mineral density.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

To help out on the site please email volunteer@nutritionfacts.org

Dr. Michael Greger

Doctor's Note

Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. And check out theother videos on dairyomnivores, and vegans. Also, there are 1,449 other subjects covered in the rest of my videos--please feel free to explore them as well!

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/mgreger/ Michael Greger M.D.

    Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. And check out the other videos on dairy, omnivores, and vegans. Also, there are 1,449 other subjects covered in the rest of my videos–please feel free to explore them as well!

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/toxins/ Toxins

    I thought dairy leaches calcium from the bones from its acidity?

    • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/mgreger/ Michael Greger M.D.

      The scientific nutrition community used to believe that the abundance of sulfur-containing amino acids in animal proteins would lead to a negative calcium balance, but that is outdated thinking. See http://nutritionfacts.org/videos/is-protein-bad-to-the-bone/ for one of the later reviews. And on a personal note, Toxins, thank you for your prolific commenting–I love it!

      • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/toxins/ Toxins

        Haha, I have watched literally all your videos and I want to have as close to a full understanding of nutrition as I can. I saw your video link but now my question is, what is the cause of osteoporosis? Does nutrition play a role?

        • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/TanTruong/ Tan Truong

          Yes, thanks Toxins for all your replies here. It’s good to see people always willing to help, yet always looking for nutritional facts as old truths stand and fall.

      • Jinda

        Dr. Greger,

        I have been doing my reading and many online sources still mention acidity of meat causing release of calcium in bones into our urine. If this is not true, then what is the linkage between consuming too much protein/dairy with increase in osteoporosis if any at all?

        Jinda

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/TanTruong/ Tan Truong

    Interesting. I assumed the vegans would have the stronger bones. Well maybe the nuns didn’t consume enough calcium-rich plants. I know lately, the Buddhists, at least where I live, have developed and/or use a lot of processed food, but I don’t know if this is a regional thing as I live in Toronto.

  • Plant Based since 2011

    I was diagnosed with osteopenia before I became a whole foods vegan in 2011. I know to get sunshine and exercise, but is there specific diet suggestions to strengthen my bones?

    • http://www.DonForresterMD.com/ Don Forrester MD

      The best reference I have seen concerning osteoporosis and osteopenia is Amy Lanou’s book, Building Bone Vitality. It appears that the acid/base issue is critical. There are some plant foods that have less effect than others. I know that Dr. Greger reported on a meta analysis study that didn’t support the acid base issue but there are issues with meta analytic studies that are difficult to sort out. Congrats on improving your diet in 2011.

  • alexandra g

    I am 62 years old and have been a vegetarian/vegan since I was 19. I was just diagnosed with osteoporosis and I am shocked. I work out every single day…I do weight bearing exercises and forms of aerobics. My diet is great. My D3 levels are high. Everything checks out well and yet I have osteoporosis. I am baffled and very concerned.

    • http://www.DonForresterMD.com/ Don Forrester MD

      Even if you do everything correct there is no guarantee that you won’t get a specific chronic condition. Of course I was vegetarian for 15 years before going plant based 7 years ago. During that time I consumed dairy which is probably the worse thing you can do for bone health. As I mentioned in my previous post the best reference I have seen concerning osteoporosis is Amy Lanou’s book, Building Bone Vitality. It should not only give you suggestions to adjust your diet but has a chapter on drug therapy. It appears that thiazide diuretics are as effective as Fosamax type drugs. In my experience they are better tolerated and have fewer side effects. Of course the decision to take drugs and which drugs should be worked out between you and your physicians.

  • Florin

    Hi, Doctor Greger,
    How about the health of tendons and ligaments? I couldn’t find any references on your site, and I’m wondering what’s best for the vegan runners like myself to keep them in good shape and avoid diet related injuries.
    Thank you.

    • http://www.DonForresterMD.com/ Don Forrester MD

      I haven’t seen any articles that specifically relate to your question. There is alot of published advice in this area some evidence based and some not. You might enjoy reading Scott Jurek’s book, Eat Run, or the book he coauthored, Born to Run, for some advice. Scott is a vegan. Beyond diet as you know there are other factors. One study showed that running every day yielded a high rate of injuries after 9 months where as exercising every other day had a very small injury rate. Another program which has been successful for some of my patients is the Jeff Galloway program on Running Injury Free. I think the best diet would be the one we are designed for… whole food plant based diet… I would avoid GMO’s… good luck on finding enjoyment and avoiding injury.

      • Florin

        Thank you very much Doctor Forrester for your answer. I’ve read (almost) all about it, from Scott Jurek to Rich Roll and Brendan Brazier, but I still don’t know how to address a ligament/tendon injury. Is it similar to a bone or closer to a muscle? Maybe I can adjust my diet to speed up the recovery?

        • http://www.DonForresterMD.com/ Don Forrester MD

          I would say tendons and ligaments are more similar to muscles than bone. I’m sure the diet does influence the rate of healing but rest and time are also needed… always difficult for those of us who like to exercise.

          • Florin

            Thank you very much Doctor Forrester for your answer. I followed your advice&tips and found a lot of new (to me) and interesting stuff in the Jeff Galloway’s programs. Keep up the good work!

  • Maddie

    Can a woman who is diagnosed with osteoporosis, reverse her condition with a plant based diet? Or is the best protocol an integrative approach of medication and a plant based diet?

  • Saddha

    This is a ridiculous study. Nuns are isolated, the average person has to face stress and other daily hassles. to try to use such a study is irresponsible since other studies show vegans to have weaker bones than omnivores by as much as 5 %, not to mention lesser storage iron, deficiencies in iodine as well as testosterone. Mental illness is also high in vegans.

    • JacquieRN

      Hi Saddha, I would point you to a few other research reviews to get you started to address your concerns about weaker bones, iron, iodine and testosterone. I am not sure what “mental illness” you are referring to but here are some for depression (check out the search function or alphabetically on left navigation bar)

      http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/osteoporosis/
      http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/bone-health/
      http://nutritionfacts.org/index.php?s=iron
      http://nutritionfacts.org/index.php?s=iodine
      http://nutritionfacts.org/2013/02/12/less-cancer-in-vegan-men-despite-more-testosterone/
      http://nutritionfacts.org/index.php?s=testosterone
      http://nutritionfacts.org/index.php?s=depression

      Have fun exploring.

      • Saddha

        I think I know you guys are a cult which is why you are citing only cults studies –

        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2… #!po=32.5758
        The growth of a child is a sensitive indicator of the potential negative effects of vegetarian, vegan and macrobiotic diets. Children younger than two years of age who were fed vegetarian or vegan diets exhibited significant lower mean weight and length velocities (12) and were overall lighter in weight and smaller in stature than reference populations (13).
        http://thestir.cafemom.com/in_the_news/167553
        Vegetarian Mom Charged With Manslaughter After Baby Dies of Malnutrition
        http://www.nbcnews.com/id/18574603/ns/us_news
        Vegetarianism produces subclinical malnutrition, hyperhomocysteinemia and atherogenesis.
        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/21872435
        Do you know?
        Vitamin B12 is found primarily in meat. According to several studies, 92% of strict vegetarians experience vitamin B12 deficiencies, resulting in anemia, exhaustion, and a greater likelihood of coronary artery disease.
        http://www.samitivejhospitals.com/healthartic
        http://m.timesofindia.com/home/stoi/all-that-
        The Survey reveals that the four southern states of Andhra Pradesh (32.5%), Karnataka (37.6%), Kerala (22.9%) and Tamil Nadu (29.8%), have lower malnutrition rates than Haryana (39.6%), Rajasthan (39.9%) and Uttar Pradesh (42.4%). The data also reveals that consumption of fish, chicken or meat at least once a week by women in Andhra Pradesh (69.5%), Karnataka (45.9%), Kerala (89.6%) and Tamil Nadu (66.1%) is much higher than in Haryana (5.5%), Rajasthan (11%), and Uttar Pradesh (14.7%). Karnataka fares worse of all the southern states in terms of malnourishment and intake of fish/ chicken/meat.
        Gujarat and Punjab don’t present a rosy picture either. In cash-surplus Gujarat, 44.6% children are malnourished, and in food-surplus Punjab, the rate is 24.9%. Is it mere coincidence that women in Gujarat (12.4%) and Punjab (20.1%) have a lower intake rate of fish/chicken/meat than the national average of 40.9%?
        Vegetarianism and veganism lead to brain atrophy!!! It literally shrinks the brain!

        http://www.asylum.com/2008/09/15/a-vegertaria

        Research shows the more mental disorders people have, the more likely they choose to become vegetarians:

        http://www.ijbnpa.org/content/9/1/67

        Rather, our results are more consistent with the view that the experience of a mental disorder increases the probability of choosing a vegetarian diet, or that psychological factors influence both the probability of choosing a vegetarian diet and the probability of developing a mental disorder.

        Vegans and vegetarians also are more likely to suffer from iodine deficiencies resulting in lower vital thyroid functionality:

        http://bastyrcenter.org/content/view/795/

        The average 24-hour urinary iodine concentration in omnivores, lacto-ovovegetarians, and vegans was 216 mcg per liter, 172 mcg per liter, and 78 mcg per liter, respectively. More than 25% of the lacto-ovovegetarians and 80% of the vegans were iodine deficient compared with only 9% of omnivores. Severe iodine deficiency was found in 27% of the vegans, 10% of the lacto-ovovegetarians, and none of the omnivores. Evaluation of the lacto-ovovegetarian and vegan diets showed that they both were lacking in iodine-rich foods, but lacto-ovovegetarians had a higher intake of iodine due to intake of dairy products and eggs.

        • JacquieRN

          Hi Saddha, thank you for citing studies you feel are important for others to investigate since we welcome vigorous debate of the science. However, we aim to make NutritionFacts.org a place where people feel comfortable posting without feeling attacked by comments that are inappropriate, like calling this a cult. Dr. Greger has gotten more sensitive to this after a physician who graciously donated his time to answer people’s questions stopped contributing because of the acrid atmosphere. So please, for everyone’s benefit, help us foster a community of mutual respect or your future comments will be deleted. Thank you in advance.