Vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian (vegetarian diet that includes “aquatic” animals) – there are lots of diet choices for those who choose to limit or not consume red meat, chicken, fish, eggs, dairy, etc. right? Many researchers are studying the outcomes of restrictive diets like these, and the findings are interesting. As always, there are limitations to most studies however, this study is worth a look! Did you know that women 35-69 years old, who follow a vegetarian diet have a 33% higher risk for hip fracture than those who regularly ate meat? Huge difference!
The study did find that “pescatarians” were NOT at increased risk. So, why? The thought is that a lower intake of protein, calcium, and other micronutrients linked with bone and muscle health is often missing in strict vegetarian diets. The researchers stressed that this study wasn’t a warning that people should steer clear of vegetarian diets, but to know the possible risks and know what nutrients you may need to supplement.
Think about it, isn’t any research related to identifying risk factors for hip fractures important? Absolutely, hip fractures are a global health issue that can and often result in a loss of independence and quality of life. Add to that, statistically, the life expectancy for someone with a hip fracture is 12-18 months! A few of the important vitamins missing in a vegetarian diet include protein, Vitamin D, and Vitamin B12, all of which are associated with bone health. So, make good choices, if you choose to stick with a vegetarian diet, know the risks and use supplements as recommended by your PCP. Stay well and stay informed!