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This Diet Can Damage Your Bone Health

In the last few years the vegan diet has exploded in popularity.

But this popular diet may have adverse effects on your bone health!

Vegan diets are actually lower in important bone building nutrients such as calcium. Additionally, vegan diets contain more anti-nutrients such as lectins which can actually cause demineralization of the bones!

Vegan Diet Popularity

Documentaries, books, blogs, and podcasts all are espousing the supposed benefits of this popular dietary trend.

Proponents promise weight loss, improved skin, decreased risk of heart disease, and even decreased risk of cancer.

However, putting anecdotal evidence aside, the scientific support for these claims is slim to none. In fact, most nutritionists would agree that in the long run a vegan diet can actually be detrimental to your health!

If that is the case, then why is that so many people say they feel better when they go vegan?

The First Three Months

On average, most people will feel much better when they first begin their vegan diet. This is because they are cutting out a lot of toxic and inflammatory food present in the Standard American Diet. This includes inflammatory low-quality dairy and grain-fed anti-biotic laden factory farmed meat.

Vegans do tend to eat more vegetables due to lack of other options so this can also be beneficial for their health.

However, once a new vegan passes the 3 month mark, they can start to run in to trouble. It is about this time when nutrient deficiencies and excessive carbohydrate consumption can begin to catch up with them.

So, what are the nutrients missing from a vegan diet that are so important to bone health?

Fat Soluble Vitamins

Vegan diets contain very little-if any-fat soluble vitamins. These are nutrients that are crucial to building and maintaining strong and healthy bones.

Fat soluble vitamins include vitamins A, D, K, and E. Loads of research has come out in the past few years linking vitamin D to bone health. Ans the other fat soluble vitamins are important for the proper utilization of vitamin D.

Fat soluble vitamins are found primarily in the fat from animal products such as pasture-raised meat and grass-fed dairy.

By avoiding these foods, vegans are dangerously jeopardizing their bone health. And these are not the only nutrients they are missing out on.

Bone Building Minerals

We all know calcium is important for bone health. And we all also know that the best source of calcium is dairy products. Raw, grass-fed, and organic dairy products are loaded with minerals such as calcium and fat soluble vitamins. This is the number one bone building superfood.

Of course, calcium can be obtained from plant sources but it is less abundant and less bioavailable. Despite what some pop-health sites claim, you just simply cannot compare the calcium content of dairy to any plant-based source.

In fact, the calcium found in plants is often bound to oxalate which is poorly absorbed and can even have negative health effects.

To top things off, not only are vegan diets lacking important nutrients to build strong bones, but they actually tend to be higher in certain anti-nutrients that cause demineralization of bones.


Plants produce compounds to protect themselves from predators. These are generally referred to as "anti-nutrients," because they are the opposite of nutritious! Examples include lectins, phytates, and oxalates among many others. Anti-nutrients are found in all plants but they are most abundant in nuts, seeds, and grains.

This is because a seed is like a baby plant and these babies are vulnerable to being eaten. The baby plant wants to protect itself from being eaten by predators before it has an opportunity to germinate.

When people consume these anti-nutrients they have a myriad of unwanted effects. Notably they can block the absorption of certain minerals leading to de-mineralization of the bones and teeth. This is obviously not good for your bone health!

Vegan the Smart Way

This does not mean that a plant-based diet is bad! But certain precautions must be taken and it is definitely wise to supplement on a vegan diet.

As a vegan it is important to supplement key vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A, D, K, and E, as well as calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Another critical supplement for vegans is DHA/EPA from algae.

When eating nuts, seeds, and grains make sure to soak and/or sprout them before consumption. This deactivates the anti-nutrients. It can also help to ferment grains before consumption as this further breaks them down and makes their nutrients more bioavailable.

Ultimately being a vegetarian is more sustainable than being a vegan. Vegetarians can eat eggs, dairy, and for some (pescatarians), fish. These animal-based products add a wide range of nutrients that are important to bone health.

One thought on “This Diet Can Damage Your Bone Health”

  • Erica Gilbert

    It is true that vegan diets, though highly beneficial against heart diseases and diabetes, can impact bone health negatively. Studies have shown people on vegan diets having lower bone mineral density. However with appropriate calcium, magnesium and Vitamin D supplements, this problem can be tackled.

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