If you follow a vegan diet, turns out you might be more prone to breaking bones.
New research claims vegans are at greater risk of bone fractures than people who eat meat and fish.
A study involving almost 50,000 people living in the UK found that people on plant-based diets are 43 per cent more likely to break bones, Metro UK reports.
But the risk of fractures reduced slightly when BMI and calcium and protein intake were taken into consideration.
The study's lead author Oxford University nutritional epidemiologist Dr Tammy Tong said it was the first comprehensive study to be done on the risk of diet-based fractures.
"Previous studies have shown that low BMI is associated with a higher risk of hip fractures, and low intakes of calcium and protein have both been linked to poorer bone health," Tong said.
"This study showed that vegans, who on average had lower BMI as well as lower intakes of calcium and protein than meat-eaters, had higher risks of fractures at several sites."
And the results showed that vegans were at higher risk of total fractures, resulting in nearly 20 more cases per 1,000 people over 10 years compared to meat eaters.
The biggest differences were found in hip fractures, perhaps due to the fact that vegans often eat less calcium and protein and generally have lower BMI than meat eaters - and thus less flesh to soften a fall or accident.
The research also showed vegans were more likely to fracture legs, arms, wrists, ribs and clavicles - but data on whether that is caused by accidents or just poor bone health was not available.
But Tong stressed that plant-based diets are full of benefits. Studies show they are linked to lower risks of diseases like diabetes and heart disease, and can improve nutrient levels.
"Individuals should take into account the benefits and risks of their diet, and ensure that they have adequate levels of calcium and protein and also maintain a healthy BMI, that is, neither under nor overweight," he said.
According to the Vegan Society Aotearoa New Zealand, NZ now ranks fifth in the world for veganism.
Vegan Society spokeswoman Claire Insley says "Vegan foods are set to increase production both in New Zealand and worldwide, as their greater sustainability and lower carbon footprint makes growing crops and plants ever more important.
"Increasing the amount of plant-based food you eat is the simplest way to help mitigate climate change and one you have complete control over."
Fears over climate change and sustainability are increasing reasons for going vegan, as research says we need to be eating more plant-based foods to be sustainable.
The Covid-19 pandemic has also contributed to the boom in veganism, with slaughterhouses and butcheries across the world affected and closed down due to the pandemic.
Plant Based Health Professionals UK founder Dr Shireen Kassam said it was important that a balanced vegan diet provides enough calcium.
"When the results [of the Oxford study] were adjusted for calcium intake, those consuming at least 525 mg of calcium per day, regardless of diet pattern, showed no increase in risk of fracture. So if the diet contains an adequate amount of calcium there should be no disadvantage for bone health with a vegan diet."
And she added that increasing fruits and vegetables and plant proteins "can promote better bone health".
Vegan sources of calcium include fortified unsweetened soya, leafy green vegetables, rice and oat drinks, and calcium-set tofu.