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Our response to Oxford study which finds people on vegan diets may have more fractures 

Media releases

23 Nov 2020

New research from The University of Oxford published in the journal BMC Medical and reported in the national media today has found that those following a vegan diet maybe at greater risk of broken bones.

Professor Nick Harvey, Professor of Rheumatology and Clinical Epidemiology, MRC LEU, University of Southampton said: “Whilst this study demonstrates increased fracture risk in those who follow a vegan diet, the increase is modest and the absolute difference in expected numbers of fractures is relatively small in this young population. However, since fracture risk rises markedly with age, it is possible that as this population grows older, the difference may increase. Further study is needed, but individuals following a vegan diet are advised to eat a wide range of nutritious foods incorporating plenty of alternative sources of calcium and protein plus vitamin D to support their bone health.”

The large-scale study examined the diets of 55,000 people (average age 40-50 years) including 2,000 vegans for 18 years and found a higher incidence among those on a plant-based diet.

However, the report also highlights that many vegans had a lower than average weight and BMI (body mass index) which could affect their risk of breaking bones. 

Adults need 700mg of calcium a day. It is essential that anyone following a plant-based diet and therefore avoiding dairy doesn’t miss out on the vital nutrients for their bone health. They should ensure they are getting a healthy well-balanced diet including green leafy vegetables, almonds and sesame seeds, dried fruit, pulses, fortified soya and nut-based drinks, and other foods like tofu with added calcium.

The number of vegans in the UK has risen to 600,000 with a similar explosion in the variety, nature and availability of plant-based foods. 

See our information about healthy eating for good bone health or visit The Vegan Society’s website for more great advice about following a plant-based diet.