Vegan Diet and Bone Health

Original Article Posted on the Vegan RD site

Since eating Plant Based my only concern was getting enough Iron and B12, only found in animal products. Reading Protecting Bone Health got me thinking

Seems like the same guidelines that apply to someone not eating a plant based nutrition plan apply to those.


Eat Enough Protein

You can read more about protein on vegan diets here.

Get Adequate Calcium

It’s not at all hard to get adequate calcium from plant foods, but new vegans may not know where to look. Many foods that we, non-vegans alike, are fortified with calcium, so it can be a matter of reading food labels.  Calcium fortified plant milks, and tofu made with calcium sulfate.

Increasing the absorption from foods such as leafy green vegetables from the cabbage family like kale, bok choy and turnip greens.  Try to eat at least two cups per day of foods rich in well-absorbed calcium while adding a variety of beans, almonds, navel oranges, and tahini, other calcuim rich foods, in your diet .Read more about calcium absorption here.

Related Article: Vegan Calcium Sources 

Identify a Good Source of Vitamin D

Only a handful of foods are natural sources of vitamin D, so most people depend on fortified foods or supplements for this nutrient. Fortified foods usually contain vitamin D3 which is almost always derived from animals. The vegan form of vitamin D is vitamin D2 or ergocalciferol. The evidence suggests that it’s as effective as vitamin D3 when taken as a daily supplement for maintaining adequate vitamin D status (14). However, new research suggests that vitamin D2 may be less effective in reversing a vitamin D deficiency (15). If you are deficient in vitamin D and need to raise your blood levels, there is a vegan vitamin D3 derived from lichen and sold under the brand name Vitashine. The RDA for vitamin D, whether you are taking D2 or D3, is 600 IUs.

Eat Lots of Fruits and Vegetables

Diets rich in fruits and vegetables seem to help protect bone health.  Many of these foods provide vitamin C which is involved in formation of collagen, an important component of bones. It’s also an antioxidant which may be important since oxidative stress could contribute to bone loss (16).  Potassium and magnesium in fruits and vegetables may help to counter effects of the higher acid load associated with a protein-rich diet (17). Vitamin K (in many leafy green vegetables) has been linked to better bone health although the studies don’t consistently show a benefit (18,10).  Since fruits and vegetables vary greatly in their nutrient content, it’s a good idea to eat a variety of them.

Ensure Adequate Vitamin B12

Take supplements of vitamin D and vitamin B12 or use foods fortified with these nutrients.  Follow the guidelines here to ensure adequate vitamin B12 intake.


Engage in Weight-Bearing Exercise

Exercise that provides impact and that builds muscle mass and strength is crucial for keeping bones strong.  Finding a regular weekly routine of impact sports such as aerobics, running and playing as well as strengthing with heavy weights and mobility stability movements to improve balance and limit fractures due to falling


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