Study that says vegan diets lead to broken bones has been debunked

Read Time:   |  25th November 2020

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A plant-based doctor has debunked the Oxford study that said vegan diets 'can lead to more broken bones'.


Newspaper outlets have picked up on yet another study criticising vegan diets. The new Oxford study claims that vegans are 43% more likely to suffer broken bones than meat-eaters.

The study followed over 55,000 participants for 18 years and documented almost 4,000 fractures. It seems that the biggest difference between vegans and meat-eaters was when it came to hip fractures. Vegans were found to be 2.3 times more susceptible to suffering a hip fracture than those who ate meat.

However, one plant-based doctor is dismissing the study and its claims as just another ‘sensational headline’.

Dr Matthew Nagra has taken to social media to completely debunk the newest anti-vegan headline, branding it ‘fake news’.


Calcium intake

Dr Nagra’s first qualm with the study concerned the vegan group’s calcium intake. In this study, the vegans consumed on average 591mg of calcium per day, which is well under the RDA of at least 700mg. Conversely, the meat-eating group was consuming over 1000mg per day.

However, when the researchers adjusted for calcium intake, alongside confounding variables such as age, smoking, BMI, the magnitude of risk was decreased. This means that while these factors played a role, it didn’t account for the increased risk.

Vegan supplements

While it is common knowledge that all vegans should supplement vitamins B12 and D, only about half of the vegans in the study were taking supplements.

Dr Nagra views this as a ‘huge red flag’. This means that the study did not assess or adjust for these vitamin intakes in the participants, and they probably had deficiencies. As vitamin D is incredibly important for good bone health, this is a huge oversight. He counters that when we account for these variables, those eating a vegan diet are not at a higher risk of broken bones. High fracture risk is not inherent to plant-based diets.

The conclusion

Numerous studies have shown that across the globe, the countries that consume the most dairy have the most records of osteoporosis. Moreover, research suggests that the most critical factor for maintaining healthy bones is engaging in physical activity and not diet itself.

A properly supplemented wholefoods vegan diet has been touted as the healthiest on earth, and this cannot be overturned by a study which can be debunked so easily.

Worried about your calcium intake?
Read our guide to making sure you’re getting enough calcium on a vegan diet. 

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Vegan Food & Living

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