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Helen Bennett Harvey promises that no animals were harmed in the making of this blog. Vegging Out is a recipe for a new way of life. Or at least a new way of eating. Pull up a chair. Contact me at:

Thursday, July 2, 2009

No bones about it?

Anyone have any ideas for how to save your bones?

A new study from Downunder claims those of us who live on vegetarian diets have "slightly weaker bones" than those who imbibe on flesh. This is according a story posted here and making its way across the Internet at many sites.

For anyone who does not want to read the entire story, it basically says a joint Australian-Vietnamese study of links between bones and diet of more than 2,700 people found vegetarians had bones 5 percent "less dense than meat-eaters."

"The issue was most pronounced in vegans, who excluded all animal products from their diet and whose bones were six percent weaker," the story quotes lead researcher Tuan Nguyen as saying.
He went on to say there was "practically no difference" between bones of meat-eaters and ovolactovegetarians, who excluded meat and seafood but ate eggs and dairy products.

"The results suggest that vegetarian diets, particularly vegan diets, are associated with lower bone mineral density," Nguyen wrote in the study, published Thursday in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the story said.
"But the magnitude of the association is clinically insignificant," he added.
Nguyen, who is from Sydney's Garvan Institute for Medical Research and collaborated on the project with the Pham Ngoc Thach University of Medicine in Ho Chi Minh City, said the question of whether the lower density bones translated to increased fracture risk was yet to be answered.

This is all food for thought so to speak.

But we also should note that the online charts at give numerous sources of non-dairy calcium, such as fortified ready-to-eat cereals, soy beverage, tofu, collards, molasses, spinach, soybeans, turnip greens, oatmeal, plain and flavored, cowpeas, white beans, kale, okra, beet greens, Chinese cabbage, and dandelion greens. Calcium levels in those foods vary and absorption rates vary.

Many sites catering to vegetarian and vegan lifestyles also mention concerns about high levels of protein consumption interfering with calcium absorption.

The Vegetarian Resource Group online site here , citing various sources, reports recommended level of calcium for adults 19-50 years is 1,000 mg per day. An intake of 1,200 mg of calcium is recommended for people 51 and older, it says. It also, however, warns "there are a limited number of studies of vegans, most of which find low bone density as well as low calcium intakes," and notes one study where vegans had calcium intakes close to recommended levels found that calcium was well absorbed from a vegan diet.


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