Long-Term Vegan Bone Health

Long-Term Vegan Bone Health
4.62 (92.31%) 13 votes

The bone mineral density of vegans compared to omnivores.


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 intakes, same bone 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.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.


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 intakes, same bone 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.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.


Doctor's Note

Here are a few other videos on bone health:

And check out the other videos on dairyomnivores, and vegans

Since this video came out, I’ve published more videos on bone health, including:

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

79 responses to “Long-Term Vegan Bone Health

Comment Etiquette

On NutritionFacts.org, you'll find a vibrant community of nutrition enthusiasts, health professionals, and many knowledgeable users seeking to discover the healthiest diet to eat for themselves and their families. As always, our goal is to foster conversations that are insightful, engaging, and most of all, helpful – from the nutrition beginners to the experts in our community.

To do this we need your help, so here are some basic guidelines to get you started.

The Short List

To help maintain and foster a welcoming atmosphere in our comments, please refrain from rude comments, name-calling, and responding to posts that break the rules (see our full Community Guidelines for more details). We will remove any posts in violation of our rules when we see it, which will, unfortunately, include any nicer comments that may have been made in response.

Be respectful and help out our staff and volunteer health supporters by actively not replying to comments that are breaking the rules. Instead, please flag or report them by submitting a ticket to our help desk. NutritionFacts.org is made up of an incredible staff and many dedicated volunteers that work hard to ensure that the comments section runs smoothly and we spend a great deal of time reading comments from our community members.

Have a correction or suggestion for video or blog? Please contact us to let us know. Submitting a correction this way will result in a quicker fix than commenting on a thread with a suggestion or correction.

View the Full Community Guidelines

    1. Can you tell me why – in general – poppy seeds are not mentioned as a good source of nutrients (especially minerals)? I use to put them in my morning green smoothies. Is it ok?

    2. Dr Greger…my doctor recommends I take calcium supplements as a bone density test indicated a condition that leads to osteoporosis. I am a 70 yr old man who has been vegan for 20 years. Does my condition call for what looks like dangerous calcium supplementation?

    3. Dear Doctor Greger
      I have adopted a strict vegan diet for about the last nine months and refer to your “how not to die” book and watch your videos. Thank you very much for all the research and expertise you bring to all of us trying to adopt a healthy lifestyle for ourselves, animals and the planet. My question is about calcium. I have an under-active thyroid and take daily thyroxine. Please could you advise me whether I should limit, or indeed cut out, my intake of cruciferous vegetables and soya as I have read that this prevents the uptake of the thyroxine and would thus make my symptoms return. I am a woman in my 60s whose mother suffered damaged hip joints etc (possibly osteoarthritis) and wish I’d learned more about nutrition years ago.
      Many thanks.

      1. 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?

      2. 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?


  1. 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.

  2. 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?

    1. 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.

  3. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. Natto can help repair the damage, studies showed thickening of the femur neck.

      Calcium is part of a group of substances that work on bone.
      D3, calcium , K1 , K2, magnesium.
      Low magnesium intake might have caused erosion of bone calcium.

    3. Yesterday I found the same thing. Consistent increased loss in three scans since 2010 and plant based six years and weights and walking but not as much as you. What more have you done snd how is it now?

    4. Hi Alexandra, I wonder since it’s been a few years, did you change anything in your diet to improve your bone health? I have the same concerns. The study discussed above btw with the Buddhist nuns is misleading and cannot tell us anything conclusively. Even though the title says vegans, I looked the study up and in the body of the study it says that the nuns abstained from meat and seafood (they were vegetarian not vegan) So still consumed animal product.

  4. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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?

        1. 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.

          1. 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!

  5. 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?

    1. 10 years I was diagnosed with osteoporosis at age 57. My doc told me to read The China Study, get off meat and dairy, and go to the gym and lift heavy weights. My diet automatically became way less acidic, but a crucial factor is the weight bearing/resistance exercises. I’ve had 2 DEXA’s since then and each one was showing osteopenia, the last one even better than the first. As a side effect, I lost the gastric reflux I had been plagued with, plaque on my aorta, and arthritis in hand and shoulder. BTW whole food plant-based is not potato chips, fries and Coke. I eat hardly any processed foods and add no oil, sugar or salt. That’s the kind of protocol that was shown to actually reverse heart disease (Ornish and Esselstyn studies)

      1. JoAnn – I was diagnosed recetnly with osteoperosis but feel since I eat I aslready eat a healthy diet of plants (almost no oil and no salt ) what more can I do? will investigate the vitamins and supplements before medication

        1. amy rosen: I’m sorry to hear you were diagnosed with osteoporosis. That’s a very hard diagnosis to get.

          I know you were writing to JoAnn, and I hope you get your reply. I just thought I might be able to provide some assistance as well.

          I highly recommend reading the book, “Building Bone Vitality – A Revolutionary Diet Plan to Prevent Bone Loss and Reverse Osteoporosis”. It sounds like your diet is already extremely healthy. But maybe this book will help you tweak your diet further specifically for bone health.

          I’ll also point out that JoAnn mentioned weight lifting/exercise. The proper type of exercise seems to be at least as important as a good diet. If you read the book I listed above, it has a whole chapter on exercise – making some fascinating distinctions between those exercises which help bones and those which (while healthy in a general sense) do not actively create strong bones. If it turns out that you are really doing all you can on the diet front, you may want to look into certain types of exercise — and it doesn’t have to be weight lifting.

          Hope that helps.

          1. Hi Thea – I plan to order the book you recommended shortly. Thank you….however at the end of the day I need to get calcium from the food I eat. I eat an extremely healthful diet “ala” Dr Fuhrman style. I eat zero artificial sugar, the only oil outside my home and a minimal amount of salt outside my home…,.I limit these quit a bit. My dinners consist of extremely huge chopped salads with 1-2 cups of chickpeas and a variety of nuts, raisons and vegetables. When I look at my calcium intake, I do not get enough on this diet. I now added drinking 8 oz of OJ with calcium added to help, but will need help to get a minimum of 1,000 or 1,200 needed mg just to maintain bone health —-I NEED TO REVERSE IT – I am scared because my doctor said I must eat dairy – and that’s it. I also added a vitamin of 1,000mg of calcium that I never took before. Still I struggle with all the kale, chickpeas and broccolli in my salads to get to the much needed 1,000mg. The almond milk I use on my oat based cereal in the morning only has 10% of daily calcium. I will read the book for ideas. I am only 56 years old and way too young for this diagnosis. Also, I have excersised all my life with weights and cardio. I recently broke my wrist very badly and wonder if it would have been so bad if my bones were more dense. what is scary is…… I am probably already eating and doing most of what the book you recommended will be recommending leaving what for me to change….?

            1. amy rosen: Again, I’m so sorry you are going through all that. And indeed, based on your description, you are eating a fantastically healthy diet. There may indeed be nothing you can change. I’m not an expert and can’t say.

              Having said that, let me offer you some “food for thought”. Here are some key factors I learned in Building Bone Vitality: It takes 17 other nutrients besides calcium to build strong bones. “If bones were just sticks of calcium, they would be chalk. [Chalk snaps very easily.] Bones are living cells (mature osteoblasts) held immobile in a lattice of protein-rich collagen whose spongelike spaces are filled by crystals of hardened calcium compounds and other minerals.”

              The Building Bone Vitality book explains what those 17 other nutrients are and which foods have a of them. The book also has a few recipes and general guiding principles to follow to maximize overall bone health, not just focus on calcium.
              Maybe those ideas will help you?

              I learned that people in some countries with daily calcium intakes in the 500 range (if I remember correctly) have much lower fracture rates compared to America. Your doctor’s focus on calcium deficiency as the reason America has an osteoporosis problem goes against the evidence.

              All this information makes me think that your focus on calcium is misplaced. Yes, having too little calcium in the diet is a problem, but having too much also appears (to me) to be a problem. And we have some evidence that taking calcium supplements may be detrimental to your overall health in other areas besides bones (heart risk and something else). I’m concerned about your addition of a calcium supplement. The Building Bone Vitality book may give you ideas on how to balance your overall nutrient intake (not just a focus on calcium) to maximize your bone health.

              Dr. Greger will be addressing calcium in videos that are coming up soon. I recommend taking a look at this page for an intro:

              Of course, there is no guarantees. It is harder to reverse a problem than to prevent it in the first place. Now that you have this problem, you will have a struggle ahead. However, with the determination and discipline you are displaying in your posts, I’m very hopeful for you. I feel in my bones that you will succeed. (pun intended, sentiment sincere)

            2. amy: Part 2: My post was getting too long. So, I decided to break it into two posts. Here is some info about some studies that may also interest you:

              Here is a recent mini-article from Meetout Mondays:

              “No Link Between Milk & Calcium Intake

              Researchers at the University of Auckland recently shared the results of an aggregate study wherein there is zero correlation between bone strength and milk intake. In fact, there are actually links to bone fragility and milk intake.

              “…researchers found that an excessive amount of calcium can lead to heart disease and kidney stones…Dr. Karl Michaelsson, a professor who studies osteoporosis at Sweden’s Uppsala University,…found that individuals who drank the most milk had the highest risk of bone fractures and early death,” notes VegNews.com’s coverage of the findings. That’s pretty heavy stuff considering the history of the milk industry and what they’ve been claiming, for so many years.

              Here is a quote from an article from an article from the BBC from October 2014. If you can find the article, there is a whole lot of good info. Note how this study contradicts your doctor’s insistence on drinking milk. (Insisting you drink milk doesn’t make sense from a whole lot of angles. Is it time to find a new doctor???? Of course, a lot of factors go into choosing a doctor. I’m just suggesting that this ignorance on your doctor’s part of how to fix your serious condition is a serious factor.)

              “High milk diet ‘may not cut risk of bone fractures’
              Milk is rich in calcium, a key component of bones

              The research, conducted in Sweden, showed women who drank more than three glasses a day were actually more likely to break bones than those who had less. Drinking lots of milk may not lower the risk of fracturing bones, a study in the British Medical Journal suggests.

              The researchers cautioned that their work only suggested a trend and should not be interpreted as proof that high milk consumption caused fractures.


              Consider the following quote that I got from Rami. If milk is not good for kids’s bone health, why would it be good for an adult woman?

              A review published in the Journal of Pediatrics focused on the benefits of dairy “the findings of epidemiologic and prospective studies have raised questions about the efficacy of the use of dairy products for the promotion of bone health.” after a review of the existing literature and finding “A positive relationship between dairy product consumption and measures of bone health in children or young adults was reported in 1 of 4 cross-sectional studies; in 0 of 3 retrospective studies; in 0 of 1 prospective study; and in 2 of 3 randomized, controlled trials. Only 1 of these randomized clinical trials adequately controlled for vitamin D intake, and it showed no significant effect of dairy products on BMD [bone mineral density]” , they concluded, “Scant evidence supports nutrition guidelines focused specifically on increasing milk or other dairy product intake for promoting child and adolescent bone mineralization.”


              A meta-analysis published in the British Medical Journal found, “The small effect of calcium supplementation on bone mineral density in the upper limb is unlikely to reduce the risk of fracture, either in childhood or later life, to a degree of major public health importance.”and “The authors concluded that the literature did not support recommendations for consumption of dairy products for bone health end points in children and young adults…Our quantitative systematic review confirms this conclusion” The authors also state, “Our results also do not support the premise that any type of calcium supplementation is more effective than another.” Even studies that used intakes of 1400 mg per day of calcium showed no benefit.



              This is just a sampling. The authors of the book Building Bone Vitality cite more than 1,200 studies and claim that the calcium theory of healthy bones just does not stand up to the actual evidence to date and given the volume of evidence available, this conclusion is not likely to change.

              Hope this helps!

  6. 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.

    1. 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)


      Have fun exploring.

      1. 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).
        Vegetarian Mom Charged With Manslaughter After Baby Dies of Malnutrition
        Vegetarianism produces subclinical malnutrition, hyperhomocysteinemia and atherogenesis.
        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.
        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!


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


        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:


        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.

        1. 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.

          1. I agree about attitude. That put aside, I think it’s very healthy for this group to have people with different views, particularly views that challenge the very essence of this group veganism and health, and that challenge the studies.

          2. and yet no real point by point dissection or refutation of these studies by Dr. Greger. I eat plant based, but have had similar questions. He cites bmd is the same in vegans v carnivores, but the cohorts he looks at are young. studies comparing older cohorts show vegans have lower BMD. why does he not address these questions or valid points? As a person who eats plant based, and has advised others to do so, I find this concerning.

    2. Saddha, usually if you look at the study of nuns they weren’t even vegans they were vegetarians and got 10% of their nutrients from animal products

  7. My daughter, after eating vegan and following Dr Esselstyn’s plan for about a year now, had her bone density checked this week. Where she should be about a10 she scored 2. Can you give her any advice?

    1. Ellen: That seems really odd, especially since Dr Esselstyn’s plan generally includes eating lots of greens. Of course, I don’t know what your daughter’s bone density was before she changed her diet. So, maybe it was a 2 beforehand. Or maybe she went up from a 1???

      I’m not a doctor, but I recommend checking out the book, “Building Bone Vitality” by Amy Lanou and Michael Castleman. It not only includes specific recommendations for bone health, but also reminds people of the importance of exercise on bone health – and which type of exercises work and which do not.


      Hope that helps!

  8. I’m a 54 year old male and been following a whole food plant based diet for over 3 years. Generally, I feel great and have gotten off my statins, lost 30 pounds and get plenty of exercise through road cycling. I slipped on some ice a couple of months ago and thought I sprained my ankle, but it still didn’t quite feel right so I saw an Orthopedic specialist and was found to have an oblique nondisplaced fracture at the base of the medial malleolus, along with a split tear of the inframalleolar peroneal longus tendon. I have taken Nexium daily for 15 years and am scheduled for a bone density scan next week. My doctor is concerned that my diet may be adversely affecting my bone health and I’m looking for some specific resources I can share with him that may allay his concerns.

    1. Bill: Sounds like you are doing so well! Except for that terrible fall anyway. I highly recommend the following book:
      “Building Bone Vitality” by Amy Lanou and Michael Castleman

      Also, you might check out Brenda Davis’ book Becoming Vegan.

      Both are great sources of information about eating plant based and bone health. These sources might prompt you to tweak your diet, but over all should support what you are doing and provide assurance for your doctor.

      You might also check out some of the other videos on this site showing how diet affects bone health.

      Hope that helps.

  9. is heart attack a potential risk from calcium supplementation? Is there a safe amount of calcium to take, and what form is best – lactate, carbonate, citrate, chelated?

  10. Can you consume too much calcium from supplements? I don’t have a calcium deficiency, but being vegan everyone is telling me to supplement my calcium. I thought that an excess of calcium can land in the heart or in bones joints (like sandpaper). Any thoughts?

    1. There is no need to supplement calcium. Calcium needs are lower if you are not consuming animal products and if sodium is low.

      “Reducing animal protein intakes by 40 g reduces the intercept [calcium balance] value and requirement to 600 mg. Reducing both sodium and protein reduces the intercept value to 450 mg.”


      Eat plenty of dark leafy greens, such as kale and collarsd, as well as beans. You can track your nutrient intake with https://cronometer.com/

  11. Hello Doctor Greger,
    Thank you for all your research and helpful information.
    My mom is 70 years old and she has been a vegan for one year. her doctor recommended injection of Prolia twice a year for her osteoprosis.
    I want to know your opinion on Prolia.
    Please advise whether it is a safe and useful drug for Osteoprosis and if there are other ways to treat osteoprosis.
    Thank you for your help.

  12. with regard to veganism–

    1. please explain why no native people ever found were vegans

    2. please explain why left alone in the wild, a human’s only hope is to
    find animal-based food

    3. please explain why veganism requires, for most people, cooking, a
    totally unnatural intrusion to, and destruction of natural food

    thank you,

    dr. w

    1. “Dr.” w, this website is evidenced based.
      There is no peer-reviewed published evidence in support of your questions’ premise:

      1) Humans have evolved to eat plants. Here is peer-reviewed published evidence: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1095643302003458 This is one of hundreds.

      2) Maybe you can provide some insight as to why “left alone in the wild”
      chimpanzees, our closest extant relative with 97% of DNA conserved between our species, only eat fruit, and flourish, just like humans do. Keep in mind there is no difference between eating raw fruit all day long in my kitchen and being “left alone in the wild” and eating nothing but fruit.

      3) You’d be the first vegan I’d ever heard of that cooks all their fruit.
      And, as the other poster brought up, you won’t live too long eating raw meat all the time considering all the parasites such as Trichinella spiralis that will make you very very sick.

      If you still believe you’re correct, we’d all love to see some peer-reviewed evidence in support of your claims. What? It doesn’t exist?
      We knew that already.


  13. Hi! I have a fairly healthy vegan diet and take vitamin D supplements frequently since I live in Scandinavia. On my latest blood test results I had low values of vitamin D and on calcium. I do, though, drink coffee often – 2 to 4 cups a day – and I have been having very dry skin and eczema like neve before. Some readings suggest that low calcium might affect skin this way and others suggest that coffee might reduce calcium absorption. I have been noticing drier, irritated skin on the day after I have 4 to 5 cups of coffee. Is there a link to all this? Thank you in advance.

  14. Hopefully, its ok to ask this here. I tried to ask this on the fb page How Not to Die, and was told it really wasn’t the right place to ask it. The admin I think tried to answer the question, and no disrespect to her, but it was not satisfactory. and no, I have not yet read the book, but am familiar with Dr. Greger, his lectures and many videos. This is from Dr. Greger(in fact I got to this page by clicking on “bone mineral density” in the following) “The idea that the acid-forming quality of animal protein has to be buffered by calcium from the bones, thus leading to bone loss, might not be true. However, despite the fact that milk-drinkers have a higher calcium intake, long-term vegans were found to have the same bone mineral density.” (now that “summary” was updated in 2016, but lead me to this video from 2010) I am wondering if Dr. Greger, or those answering questions for him, might point me to that study. I have found two studies that say the opposite–essentially that while protein is critical to calcium absorbtion, there is a significant difference between animal and plant protein, with intake of plant protein being negative associated with BMD. The two studies are at the end of this entry. I did find one study that said bone mineral density was the same, but it was in a young cohort (age 30s approx.), and could not conclusively state how plant based folks will fare as they enter later years when bone loss and hip fracture is more common. May I say, I am not here to try to prove a plant based diet is unhealthy. I am here for the opposite reason. I encourage people constantly to adopt a plant based diet, and I feel that if I come across a question, I need to explore it. My family, including my two children, have adopted a plant based diet because of me. That places on me a huge responsibility to make sure I haven’t missed anything, and to ask questions when it seems warranted. Thank you



    1. sistadana: I forwarded your post onto our medical moderators. Hopefully we can get you a helpful answer to your very reasonable question. But please note that we simply do not have enough volunteers to answer all the questions. Lots of questions go unanswered. We do the best we can.
      While I’m by no means an expert, I thought I would share with you my favorite book on the topic of bone health: Building Bone Vitality (https://www.amazon.com/Building-Bone-Vitality-Revolutionary-Osteoporosis-Without/dp/0071600191/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1484071963&sr=1-1&keywords=building+bone+vitality ) The book focuses mostly on the (failed) calcium theory more than your specific question, but I think it might put your mind at ease on the topic as strong bones in various cultures, including plant based cultures is addressed if I remember correctly. The book is a fast, easy read and might help you feel more comfortable about the diet you are feeding your family.
      You might also want to check out the website Vegetarian Resource Group (VRG). They are a pretty well-researched outreach site, and they have a section for feeding vegan kids. Maybe some of your questions would be answered on that site. Here’s the main kid section: http://www.vrg.org/family/kidsindex.htm . Here is my favorite article in that section. It starts with infants and goes through the teenage years: http://www.vrg.org/nutshell/kids.php . The website PCRM (Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine) also has some good, science-based article about feeding kids a healthy diet.
      Good luck to you and your whole family.

        1. sistadana: I don’t know. As I said, I forwarded your question. Not all questions get answered from our medical moderators because we simply do not have enough volunteers to answer every question. I hope your question gets answered.

          1. me too. for all the plant based women out there. One would have to say that a plant based diet isn’t really viable after all(especially for women) if in our 60s and beyond we are at significantly greater risk for bone fracture, and have extremely lower BMD. I will begin now to post this question on every plant based page I can think of. Women need to at least be aware. Thanks for trying.

  15. Dr Gregor – my sister in the UK has avoided most dairy for over 10 years now and is also almost vegan (fish sadly still in her diet) but at the age of 59 she has just had a bone scan and has osteoporosis in her spine. She has been told to up her Vitamin D and Calcium supplements, and to take Alendronic acid once a week for 2 to 3 years.

    I have been vegan for over 35 years and am 57. However, I run, bike, do yoga and hike and my posture is good and I recently broke my shoulder in 4 places and it is healing well. if there had been a concern about my bone density I think it would have come up in the process of surgery and X-rays.

    So – I am not concerned – but my sister has long been an omnivore so is that the obvious factor compared to me and will the Alendronic acid help, hinder or neither? I have no idea what it is and although I could Google it !! I would rather know for sure!

    Thank you so much if you do manage to answer my question. I know you must be so busy!!

  16. If you read the study you will see that although the title says vegans, these nuns were VEGETARIAN–it says they abstained from meat and seafood. They still consumed animal sources of protein. How does this support your conclusion that vegans and homnivores have the same bmd?

    1. Hi! I’m Dr Anderson, a volunteer with Nutrition Facts. It took quite a while, but I finally was able to pull up the original article on the Buddhist nuns. I agree, the authors seems to use the terms vegetarian and vegan interchangably! The table 1 (place in articles where specific characteristics are listed) states exactly what they ate. Up to 10% of calories were animal based. So agree, not strictly vegan.

      Aside from the Vietnamese article, which I agree was not made clear, Dr G videos a great deal of other literature on this topic. Here’s one of them: https://nutritionfacts.org/video/alkaline-diets-animal-protein-and-calcium-loss/

      I usually refer to two article published in the British Medical Journal a few years ago that found increased dairy was associated with higher mortally in some and with increased bone fractures in others. Here’s a link to one of those: http://www.bmj.com/content/349/bmj.g6015.

      I truly hope this helps.

      1. I appreciate your reply but Dairy aside(we all already know dairy is not good for us)the studies I have looked at(I believe they’re posted under this thread somewhere either under Dana or sistadana, talk about plant v animal protein, that plant protein is negatively associated with bone mineral density and animal protein is positively associated with it.

      2. Additionally article you’re sharing by Dr. G on alkaline diets actually refutes the old theory that animal protein causes our bones to leach calcium. The study showed that the calcium in the urine was coming directly from the diet and not from the bones

      3. Again thank you. I hope you will see all of the responses including the one where I posted the studies that show a negative correlation between plant protein and bone mineral density. Finally, I think that upon discovering that I am correct doctor, that Dr. G should somehow amend this video or put something where it’s quite clear that the information he’s offering is incorrect. It is not a small error. For All his good intentionsPerhaps Dr. G should make sure that he’s actually taking the time to review the studies he uses to support his argument. Giving people false information when it’s easy to fact check first(I pulled the study up in five minutes–didn’t take me long at all), is inexcusable.

  17. The study refers to the nuns as vegans. “By religious rule, the nuns do not eat meat or seafood (i.e., vegans).” The title of the study also uses the term “Veganism”. I agree that abstaining from meat and seafood doesn’t mean vegan if you eat other sources of animal protein but the study does not say they ate other sources of animal protein so I don’t think we can make that assumption especially since the study uses the term vegan in a few different places.

    1. the problem is, based on what the study stays, and without clarification, I don’t think we can assume Anything from this study. and since Dr.Gregor has not clarified it–and I’ve now reached out to him in numerous ways–you would be foolish to assume that your bone health will be fine on a vegan diet, especially when there are some recent studies that actually show bone mineral density is NEGATIVELY associated with plant protein.

  18. Thank you for bringing these studies to our attention as they are interesting, but please keep in mind that the participants were in no way identified as vegan, therefore these studies do not refute Dr. Greger’s point that the vegan subjects of this study do not suffer any bone mineral density issues. This distinction is important as an omnivore with a high plant protein intake is not the same as a vegan. The study that Dr. Greger cites is generally accepted as studying vegans which is the reason the authors use the term “vegan” in the title and throughout the publication. Please also keep in mind that our closest living relatives in the wild, the chimpanzee that conserves 99% of our DNA, and the gorilla, that conserves 98% of our DNA, are extremely robust and powerful primates that eat 98% and 97% vegan diets respectively, yet never demonstrate any evidence of bone mineral density issues. In fact the same principals apply to all of this planets largest animals with very strong bones such as the elephants, rhinoceros, giraffe, hippo, etc that are all strict vegans. Should you find an unbiased peer-reviewed published clinical study that clearly shows evidence that vegans suffer from bone mineral density issues, we would every much like to see it.

    1. The nuns were labeled vegan, but if you look at the study it says “the nuns were vegan (didn’t eat meat or seafood)”. Now, you and I both know that that is not vegan. And yes, I will share the studies. Although I believe I already shared them in this thread somewhere, in the absurd hope that dr Greger would respond himself.

    1. If you’d like us to evaluate the studies, please copy and paste them here as they will come through as an email, otherwise I can’t see them.

      Dr. Ben

  19. Dr. Greger …. Many vegans living in the northern climates (like myself) take a Vitamin D3 supplement. In the newspaper this week (October, 2018) was mention of a study that stated that Vit D supplementation was of no value to anyone unless you had a severe deficiency. The article said the study was published in “Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology” (no publishing date was given). The article says, “Vitamin D supplements do not help prevent fractures, increase bone-mineral density or prevent falls in adults, a large review of studies has concluded”. Have you heard of this? I’d really like your staff to read this and comment. Thank you.

    1. Chuck R.,
      This meta analysis primarily focused on fractures and falls. Vit D has many other functions. Furthermore suboptimal levels and excessive levels are associated with increased mortality. This meta-analysis did not identify plant based versus standard American diet. The levels recommended by Dr G is intended to provide a safe level to ensure adequacy without getting excessive levels. Stay tuned, I expect this topic will be revisited soon.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This