It has been my observation that recently more and more vegans have been having bone problems including hip fractures and replacements. In the past, hip fractures were considered to be a sign of old age and impending death. This may not the case today, but I do believe that the food choices common to much of the vegan practice are creating an overly acidic condition which may cause calcium loss. Calcium is available in all plant-based foods, especially greens and beans. Proper food preparation aids in the absorption and utilization of calcium, minerals, and other nutrients.
Why Are Vegans Having Poor Bone Health
Current vegan recommendations advise avoiding all added salt, sugar, and oil. In addition, nightshades and other acidifying vegetables are highly recommended. Furthermore, smoothies are often used to replace some meals altogether. It is my concern that this may not be a healthy direction for a sustained vegan practice. All of the world’s long-standing civilizations were plant-based; their mainstays were grains, beans, vegetables, and fruits. They also used salt and oil in their food preparations (this includes the people of Blue Zones). It seems it is safer and healthier to base our general recommendations on what has already worked for many hundreds, or even thousands of years.
Vegan Foods for Bone Health
There’s no doubt that the excessive use of salt and oil is unhealthy, especially when these are poor quality. It might be advisable to take a softer approach by recommending a minimal use of natural sea salt and high quality sesame and/or olive oil. Salt makes food tastier, more enjoyable, and satisfying. High-quality sea salt, used in cooking, aids in carbohydrate digestion and absorption in the small intestine. Oil, used in cooking, aids in the absorption of minerals and fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K). It also adds to the taste and enjoyment of foods cooked in oil.
Vegan foods that are high in calcium:
- Leafy green vegetables – collard and turnip greens, broccoli, cabbage, kale, brussel sprouts, and bok choy. Another great choice is adding leafy greens to your miso soup.
- Beans and lentils
- Soy products – tofu and tempeh
Why Is Calcium Important For Bone Health
Plant-based foods offer the highest quality in calcium. Therefore, having a strong plant-based vegan diet is the best to keep your bones strong. Here are the benefits of having a high calcium diet:
- Help bone and teeth formation and development
- Keeps muscles strong and healthy
- Plant-based calcium neutralizes acidity and keeps your condition alkaline
I am concerned that current vegan recommendations are an overreaction to a meat and dairy-based diet. The world is watching us; let’s make sure we get it right. If you need help with bone health, set up a macrobiotic counseling appointment.
It also has occured to me that as we become increasing mistrustful of our water (often justifiably so) and filter our drinking and cooking water, aren’t we also unfortunately filtering out beneficial salt and minerals? Much like the case of antibiotics, when necessary, they also kill all the good bacteria with the bad.
I do not think a good water filter will remove beneficial minerals. I guess we will have to research this more to be sure.
Completely agree Denny. Great post.
Just curious if you could give perhaps a day’s meals that would include plenty of calcium? Thanks
Any of the meals from the menus in this blog that include greens and beans have plenty of calcium. If miso soup is included there is even more.
Please advise re – B12 deficiency
It is best to take a vegan methylcobalamin B-12 supplement to get your B-12 level back to normal. Varied macrobiotic practice should be able to maintain healthy levels after that. You may also want to continue with the supplement occasionally.
Thanks Denny. I have seen a disturbing trend away from using oil.
Points well taken . You can use a good oil, salt etc in the diet but not excessively. I always put greens in our miso soup, sometimes with carrots , shatike mushroo , seaweed but always use some type of greens.and always seaweed.
Thanks/ Jennifer Philogene
Denny, thank you very much for this information. Very reassuring that we are on track for healthy bones.