According to a UK study, vegetarian women are more prone than meat-eating women to have hip fractures later in life.
Over a nearly 22-year period, researchers examined the health and dietary records of over 26,000 women and found that vegetarians had a third higher risk of hip fracture than people who frequently consumed meat.
Researchers believe certain vegetarians may not obtain enough nutrients for strong bones and muscles, making them more prone to falls and fractures. The exact cause of the higher risk is unknown.
"The message for vegetarians is don't give up your diet, because it is healthy for other things and environmentally friendly," said James Webster, a researcher at the University of Leeds. "But do take care to plan well and don't miss out on nutrients that you exclude when you don't eat meat or fish," he added.
In addition to lowering the risk of diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and some malignancies, vegetarian diets are frequently seen as being healthier than those that include meat.
The BMC Medicine study, however, emphasises the value of a balanced diet regardless of what people eat. According to Webster, vegetarians are more likely to have weaker bones and less muscle mass, which both increase the risk of hip fractures for several reasons, including possibly reduced intakes of vital nutrients.
Falls, which are more frequent in elderly persons who tend to be more fragile and have weaker bones, account for around 90% of hip fractures.Frailty can be exacerbated by fractures, which raises the possibility of additional falls and worse frailty.
The researchers believe vegetarians are more likely than meat eaters to be underweight and that in addition to having weaker bones and muscles, they may also have less fat, which can serve as a cushion when individuals fall.