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  • If you choose to go vegan, experts say choose your plants wisely.
  • Vegans are more likely to have hip fractures than omnivores, according to research.
  • Experts say vegans should eat chickpeas, seeds, and quinoa for bone health.
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Although a vegan diet is hailed for its many health benefits, there may be some downsides to ditching animal products.

A small study found that veganism is linked to weaker bones and higher odds of bone fractures compared to those who eat animal products, otherwise known as omnivores.

The study, conducted by researchers at the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, also found that vegans had less calcium - an important nutrient for bone health - than omnivores. Some of the other nutrients the vegans lacked were vitamin A, vitamin B2, lysine, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids.

But Bonnie Taub-Dix, a registered dietitian nutritionist and author of Read It Before You Eat It - Taking You from Label to Table, who was not involved in the study, said there are ways to maintain bone health without forgoing a vegan diet.

Veganism has become popular over the years - evidenced by Meatless Mondays and the rise of popular vegan chefs. And for good reason - as it's been linked to better heart health and reduced risk of diabetes and cancer. Beyond health benefits, it's also good for the environment because taking care of livestock emits carbon monoxide.

"People are turning to a vegan diet not only due to compassion for animals and awareness of environmental problems but also for health benefits," Andreas Hensel, BfR president, told the Daily Mail.

But if you're thinking about going vegan, make sure to "choose your plants wisely," Taub-Dix told Insider.

Other research says vegans are more likely to fracture hips and break legs

The researchers studied two groups - 36 vegans and 36 omnivores - and took an ultrasound of one of each of the participants' heels to assess bone health. Overall, vegans had weaker bones.

This isn't the first study to note the connection between veganism and bone health.

In a robust study of 55,000 people, vegans had 2.3 times as many hip fractures and double the number of broken legs compared to omnivores. The study also found that some vegans may not be eating enough protein, which is crucial for bone health.

Vegans should eat these foods to fortify bone health

Taub-Dix said a vegan lifestyle isn't just about adding vegetables and removing animal products from your diet. "It's really trying to see where the gaps could be in the nutrients you'd be missing by not having animal products and trying to make them up with the foods that you're eating."

Taub-Dix said vegans can take steps to maintain bone health - starting with food.

Fortified foods

Foods with added nutrients, or fortified foods, are normally looked down upon, according to Taub-Dix. But she said some products, like Almond Breeze, are perfect for vegans to load up on calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin D.

Pulses

Chickpeas, lentils, dried peas, and beans fall under this category. "They provide a powerhouse of nutrients," Taub-Dix said.

These foods are a great source of plant protein, lysine, and magnesium, which are important for bone health.

Yeast, quinoa, and avocado

Vegans in the study lacked Vitamin B2. Taub-Dix said this vitamin is found in animal products like yoghurt, cheese, and eggs, but can also be found in vegan-friendly foods, like avocado.

Seeds

Omega 3 fatty acids were another nutrient lacking among vegans in the study. Taub-Dix suggests sprinkling chia, hemp, flax, or sesame seeds over cereal or a muffin to ensure you're getting that nutrient.

Exercising can also boost bone health. "A lot of people don't realise the importance of putting pressure on your bones which actually helps calcium get absorbed."

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