Raw-Food Vegetarians: A Closer Look at Bone Health Concerns

Key Takeaways:

  • Raw-food vegetarians may exhibit low bone mass which increases their risk of developing bone-thinning conditions like osteoporosis, according to a recent study.
  • Despite lower bone mass, other indicators such as bone turnover rate and vitamin D status in these individuals were found to be normal, suggesting their bone quality might still be sound.
  • A comparative study showed the raw-food vegetarian group had lower daily intake of calcium and vitamin D, which are essential for maintaining bone health.
  • The study also demonstrated that vegetarians had significantly lower bone mineral content and density across various body sites compared to those following a conventional diet.
  • In order to safeguard against osteoporosis, adults are encouraged to consume between 1,000 to 1,300 milligrams of calcium daily and 5 micrograms (or 200 units) of vitamin D.

Raw-food vegetarians, who exclusively consume uncooked plant-based foods, may exhibit low bone mass, which could potentially herald bone-thinning conditions such as osteoporosis, according to a recent study.

However, the findings were not all alarming: researchers noted that other indicators of bone health, such as bone turnover rate and vitamin D status, appeared normal in these strict vegetarians.

Understanding Bone Mass in Vegetarians

“Low bone mass is just one aspect of fracture risk,” said the lead author of the study. “These individuals demonstrated low bone mass, which clinically increases their vulnerability to fractures. However, since markers like bone turnover were normal, the quality of their bones might still be sound.” Despite the somewhat reassuring findings, the author advised against adopting a raw-foods vegetarian diet due to its extreme nature.

A Comparative Study

The study shed light on the impact of raw plant-based diets by comparing bone density and vitamin D status among raw-food vegetarians and individuals following a conventional American diet. The dietary habits of 18 people from each group, aged between 33 and 85, were examined, with none expressing concerns about their bone health.

The daily calorie intake of the vegetarian group ranged between 1,285 to 2,432, with nutrient distribution of 9.1% protein, 43.2% fat, and 47.7% carbohydrates. Concerningly, their consumption of calcium and vitamin D appeared deficient: 579 milligrams and 16 units, respectively, per day.

Compared to this, the control group consumed between 1,976 to 3,537 calories daily, achieving a balanced nutrient distribution of 17.9% protein, 32.1% fat, and 50% carbohydrates. Significantly, their ingestion of calcium and vitamin D was higher, namely 1,093 milligrams, and 348 units, respectively, per day.

The Importance of Adequate Nutrient Intake

To safeguard against osteoporosis, adults are encouraged to ingest between 1,000 to 1,300 milligrams of calcium daily. In the United States alone, at least 10 million individuals are challenged by osteoporosis, a disease typified by porous bone and low bone mass.

The National Academy of Sciences emphasizes the significance of vitamin D in bone health, recommending a daily intake of 5 micrograms (or 200 units) for most adults below age 50.

The Link Between Diet and Bone Health

The bone mineral content and bone mineral density of the vegetarian group were significantly lower than the control group across various body sites, including the lumbar spine, hip, and neck.

Furthermore, the T-scores of the vegetarians were less than those in the control group. Linchpin of bone mineral density assessments, a T-score compares a person’s bone mineral density to the peak density of a healthy 30-year-old adult.

In the vegetarian group, the average T-scores for the lumbar spine descended to -2.1, compared to -0.43 in the control group. The study hinted at certain risks associated with extreme raw-food vegetarian diets, yet it also evoked the need for caution due to its preliminary nature.

For More Information

For further understanding about bone health, visit the National Osteoporosis Foundation.

Emma Caplan

Hola from sunny Costa Rica! I’m Emma Caplan, a California native turned Costa Rican resident. With over a decade of writing experience under my belt, I’ve crafted stories, articles, and narratives on a multitude of subjects. But at heart, health and lifestyle topics resonate the most with me.Not just a writer by profession, I'm an athlete by passion. CrossFit challenges and exhilarates me, shaping both my physical stamina and my perspective on life. I love intertwining my firsthand experiences from the box with my pieces, giving readers a unique blend of authenticity and expertise.Married and fully immersed in the pura vida lifestyle, I've found the perfect balance between my personal and professional life in this tropical paradise. Whether you're here for tips, insights, or stories, I’m committed to delivering content that informs, inspires, and perhaps even pushes you to try that one workout you've been hesitating to start.Join me in my journey as I explore the nexus between physical wellbeing and the art of writing. Let's sweat, learn, and grow together!
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