Vegan diet affects bone health, shows study

NewsGuard 100/100 Score

The vegan diet is on-trend. How this type of diet affects health is the subject of scientific studies. In a new study from the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), the bone health of 36 vegans, as well as 36 people following a mixed-food diet, was determined with an ultrasound measurement of the heel bone. The result: on average, people following a vegan diet had lower ultrasound values compared to the other group. This indicates poorer bone health.

Image Credit: Marilyn Barbone / Shutterstock
Image Credit: Marilyn Barbone / Shutterstock

In the study, the scientists also determined biomarkers in blood and urine. This aims to identify nutrients that might be related to diet and bone health. Out of 28 parameters of nutritional status and bone metabolism, it was possible to identify twelve biomarkers most strongly associated with bone health - for example, the amino acid lysine and vitamins A and B6. The results show that in most cases, the combination of these biomarkers was present in lower concentrations in vegans. This could be a possible explanation for the poorer bone health.

A vegan diet is often considered health-conscious. However, our scientific findings indicate that a vegan diet does affect bone health."

Professor Dr. Andreas Hensel, BfR President

Link to publication:

Nutrition plays an important role in bone health. This was more closely investigated in the BfR's cross-sectional "Risks and benefits of a vegan diet" study. 72 men and women participated in the study. The bone health of all participants was assessed at the heel bone using ultrasound measurements. Information on age, smoking status, education, body mass index, physical activity and alcohol consumption were also collected.

By using a statistical model, the BfR was able to identify a pattern of twelve biomarkers that play an important role in bone health from 28 nutrition- and bone-relevant parameters from blood or urine. It was shown that in combination vitamins A and B6, the amino acids lysine and leucine, omega-3 fatty acids, selenoprotein P, iodine, thyroid-stimulating hormone, calcium, magnesium and α-Klotho protein were positively associated with bone health. Conversely, lower concentrations of the hormone FGF23 were observed at higher ultrasound levels in this pattern.

"In conclusion, the study observed differences in bone health between vegans and omnivores, along with differences in biomarkers related to bone health. In addition, an exploratory biomarker pattern was derived that revealed a combination of biomarkers, providing a possible explanation of a reduced bone health in vegans compared to omnivores. Additional studies are required to confirm these findings", the study authors wrote.


BfR Federal Institute for Risk Assessment - This work was supported by a grant from the Elsbeth Bonhoff Stiftung, Berlin, Germany.

Journal reference:

Menzel, J., et al. (2021) Vegan Diet and Bone Health—Results from the Cross-Sectional RBVD Study. Nutrients.


  1. Caroline Conroy Caroline Conroy United States says:

    Who sponsored this study? It has a small sample size and doesn't go into much detail.  Many, more thorough studies,  will prove a balanced whole foods plant-based diet is best for optimal health, including bone health. Personally, I've experienced measurable bone health improvements since going plant-based and ditching dairy products. I also ensure a balanced diet unlike most individuals.

    • Adam Drake Rünosson Engvall Adam Drake Rünosson Engvall Sweden says:

      Protein from animals is more absorbed than "protein" from vegetables and supplements. Even if its "Super strength vegan Protein supl." it isn't absorbed the same way meat and milk is. Did you read the study (Dec 2020) on vegans healing their surgery scars compared to omnivores? The result spoke for itself, vegans had a noticeably worse healing(/scaring) than normal eaters. Thats was just naked science on 21 omnivores and 21 vegans.  This study was not a lie, do you hate what result the study showed? Like of you say "Thats a lie I supplement!!" then that only says what you hope will happen, even when studies point to...

      "Look at the studies veganism works!"   Yea, so Im looking. "No just look at studies that confirm my biases."

  2. MJ Velasco MJ Velasco Philippines says:

    Is there any way on how I can find who funds the study of this article?

  3. Dionne Clarke Dionne Clarke Jamaica says:

    One thing I know is that according to the Genesis account in the Bible, when God made man he put him in the garden of Eden and told him to eat from every tree of the garden except one. So at the start meat was not a part of the human diet. However after the flood in the days of Noah, when he and his family and the animals came out of the Ark God told them that every moving animal that is alive may serve as food for them Genesis 9:3-5. So both the vegetation and the animals are good sources of food for humans. No one has the right to bash persons who choose to eat vegs only and no one has the right to bash those who eat meat as well. All have been given as food to us to sustain our bodies from the Creator of the human anatomy. He surely knows more than any human no matter how scientific or knowledgeable they think they are. Balance is what is needed.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
Post a new comment

While we only use edited and approved content for Azthena answers, it may on occasions provide incorrect responses. Please confirm any data provided with the related suppliers or authors. We do not provide medical advice, if you search for medical information you must always consult a medical professional before acting on any information provided.

Your questions, but not your email details will be shared with OpenAI and retained for 30 days in accordance with their privacy principles.

Please do not ask questions that use sensitive or confidential information.

Read the full Terms & Conditions.

You might also like...
Mediterranean diet can reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety, study shows