Vegan diet is not dangerous for bones

Even if you spend your whole life, from early youth, on a vegan diet, completely giving up meat and dairy products, this may not affect bone health even in old age – Western scientists came to such unexpected conclusions as a result of a study of more than 200 women, vegans and non-vegans.

The scientists compared the results of bone density tests between Buddhist nuns who follow a strict vegan diet and normal women and found they were almost identical. It is obvious that women who lived all their lives in the monastery consumed food that was much poorer (scientists believe that about two times) in protein, calcium and iron, but this did not affect their health in any way.

Researchers have come to the remarkable conclusion that it is not only the amount of intake that affects the body’s intake of nutrients, but also the sources: nutrients from different sources may not be absorbed equally well. It has also been suggested that the apparently higher amounts of nutrients in the standard Western diet are apparently less digestible, perhaps due to nutritional contradictions not yet identified.

Until recently, it was believed that vegetarians and especially vegans were at risk of not receiving a number of useful substances that meat-eaters easily get from meat: especially calcium, vitamin B12, iron, and to a lesser extent, protein.

If the issue with protein can be considered resolved in favor of vegans – because. even the most staunch opponents of giving up meat food admit that nuts, legumes, soy and other vegan foods can be sufficient sources of protein – calcium and iron are not so clear cut.

The fact is that a significant number of vegans are at risk for anemia – but not because the plant-based diet itself does not allow you to get enough nutrients, in particular iron. No, the point here, according to scientists, is the low awareness of people about alternative sources of nutrients – after all, a large number of “new converts” vegans used to eat like everyone else, with a predominance of meat, and then simply canceled its intake.

Experts point out that the average person is critically dependent on dairy products for getting enough calcium and on meat for B12 and iron. If you simply stop eating these foods without replacing them with sufficient vegan sources, then there is a danger of nutritional deficiencies. In other words, a healthy vegan is a smart and knowledgeable vegan.

Doctors believe that calcium and iron deficiency can become especially dangerous in women over 30 years old and most of all during menopause. This is not a problem specifically for vegetarians, but for all people in general. After the age of 30, the body is no longer able to absorb calcium as efficiently as before, and if you do not change your diet in favor of more of it, undesirable effects on health, including bones, are possible. Levels of the hormone estrogen, which maintains bone density, drop significantly during menopause, which can exacerbate the situation.

However, according to the study, there are no rules without exceptions. If elderly nuns, who have lived on a meager vegan diet all their lives and hardly use special nutritional supplements, are not deficient in calcium, and their bones are as strong as those of European women who consume meat, then somewhere in the harmonious reasoning the science of the past has crept in a mistake!

Scientists have yet to figure out how vegans make up for calcium and iron deficiency, and so far it has only been suggested that the body can adapt to dietary factors to more efficiently absorb these nutrients from poorer sources. Such a hypothesis needs to be carefully tested, but it generally explains how a meager diet of exclusively vegan food can maintain good health even in elderly women – i.e. people at risk.


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