Women who’re vegetarian usually tend to expertise hip fractures in later life than those that continuously eat meat, a UK research has discovered.
Researchers analysed well being and food regimen data from greater than 26,000 ladies and located that over a roughly 22-year interval, vegetarians have been a 3rd extra more likely to break a hip than those that often ate meat.
The causes for the higher danger are unclear however researchers suspect some vegetarians could not get enough vitamins for good bone and muscle well being, leaving them vulnerable to falls and fractures.
“The message for vegetarians is don’t hand over your food regimen, as a result of it’s wholesome for different issues and environmentally pleasant, however do take care to plan nicely and don’t miss out on vitamins that you just exclude once you don’t eat meat or fish,” mentioned Dr James Webster, a researcher on the University of Leeds.
Vegetarian diets are sometimes thought of more healthy than meat-containing diets and so they can scale back the chance of diabetes, obesity, heart disease and certain cancers. But the research revealed in BMC Medicine highlights the significance of a balanced food regimen no matter individuals eat.
“It’s seemingly that vegetarians, for one purpose or one other, and doubtlessly due to decrease intakes of vital vitamins, have weaker bones and decrease muscle mass and each of these issues predispose individuals to hip fractures,” Webster mentioned.
About 90% of hip fractures are linked to falls, that are extra widespread in older individuals, who are usually extra frail and have weaker bones. But fractures can usually drive additional frailty, which will increase the chance of extra falls and worse frailty.
The researchers suspect vegetarians usually tend to be underweight than meat eaters, and that past having weaker bones and muscle groups may have much less fats, which may act as a cushion when individuals fall.
Given the findings, Webster mentioned vegetarians could need to think about consuming fortified cereals with added iron and B12 for bone well being, and to make sure they’re getting sufficient protein, by means of meals akin to nuts, legumes and beans.
The researchers drew on information from the UK Women’s Cohort Study, which is monitoring ladies over time to evaluate hyperlinks between food regimen and well being. Records for 26,318 ladies aged 35 to 69 revealed that 822, or 3%, had hip fractures in a roughly 22-year interval. About 28% of the ladies have been vegetarians and 1% have been vegans.
The researchers in contrast the speed of hip fractures in vegetarians, pescatarians – those that eat fish however not meat – and occasional meat eaters with frequent meat easters. The frequent meat eaters ate meat a minimum of 5 instances per week.
Webster mentioned extra work was wanted to see if vegetarian males had a equally higher danger of hip fractures. Previous work suggests vegetarian women and men have poorer bone well being on common in comparison with meat-eaters “however danger of hip fracture in male vegetarians nonetheless stays unclear”, he mentioned.
Eating much less meat is likely one of the most vital way of life adjustments individuals could make to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Research from Leeds University final yr discovered that non-vegetarian diets created 59% more emissions than vegetarian ones.
In work published in 2020, Dr Tammy Tong, a senior dietary epidemiologist, and others on the University of Oxford, discovered that in contrast with meat eaters, vegetarians had a 25% higher danger of hip fractures, with the chance even excessive for vegans at 31%.
Vegetarians within the Leeds research had a decrease physique mass index (BMI) than regular-meat eaters, decrease protein consumption and decrease vitamin D consumption, “all of that are potential danger components for hip fracture,” she mentioned.
“Vegetarians ought to pay explicit consideration to sustaining a wholesome physique weight, and ensuring that they’ve an enough consumption of protein and different vitamins vital for bone well being, together with calcium and vitamin D.”