Vegetarianism and Broken Bones

After breaking my leg, I got a lot of feedback from people that my diet was the culprit of my injury or that my diet was going to impede my recovery. I’ll admit, it did have me worried, so I scoured the internet for information on it. I even found a website called Ask a Nutritionist, and asked a question about the issue. I was really surprised to find my question was answered:

Question:

I have never broken a bone before in my life. Two years ago, I decided to become a vegetarian. I’m very active–in the gym, playing soccer, running–and recently broke my fibula playing soccer. Family members kept telling me that my diet is weakening my bones (lack of animno acids, regular protein, etc.). Are they right? Does a vegetarian diet put you at risk for things like osteoporosis and broken bones?

Answer:

Currently there is conflicting evidence whether vegetarian diets can lead to lower bone mineral density. Some studies have suggested vegetarians are at higher risk than meat eaters, whilst other studies say the opposite.

What has been shown is that people who consume large amounts of protein are actually at a higher risk of osteoporosis than others. Consuming large amounts of protein can result in a more acidic blood PH, and the calcium in the bone is often used as a buffering agent to normalise blood PH.

Consuming sufficient Calcium and Vitamin D is more important as vegetarians can be deficient in these two nutrients. It is worthwhile making sure you do plan your diet to include these nutrients, as the bulk of scientific research shows that these are important factors in bone development.

Other important factors for building strong bones, are engaging in weight bearing exercise, avoiding alcohol, soft drinks and not smoking, all of which you already do. Overall I think that you are following a healthier lifestyle than most, and with that the overall health of your bones is likely to be better than most. Sports injuries occur to the best of athletes, and realistically I think you can put your injury down to bad luck, rather than your diet choice.

To help my body speed the process along, I’ve been taking extra calcium and vitamin D and trying to load my diet with foods rich in those nutrients. Here’s to hopping on board the train to healing!

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2 thoughts on “Vegetarianism and Broken Bones

  1. Isn’t it fun how people are so quick to be backseat doctors? 🙂

    Remember to drink OJ with your calcium pills, it helps absorption. (See, I can do it too!)

    1. Let’s get real. I eat those chocolate-flavored calcium chews (yum), and OJ would make them taste disgusting. 🙂

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