Mangels AR. - 45512 N - Am J Clin Nutr 2014 ; 100(Suppl1) : 469S-475S.
The process of bone mineralization and resorption is complex and is affected by numerous factors, including dietary constituents. Although some dietary factors involved in bone health, such as calcium and vitamin D, are typically associated with dairy products, plant-based sources of these nutrients also supply other key nutrients involved in bone maintenance. Some research suggests that vegetarian diets, especially vegan diets, are associated with lower bone mineral density (BMD), but this does not appear to be clinically significant. Vegan diets are not associated with an increased fracture risk if calcium intake is adequate. Dietary factors in plant-based diets that support the development and maintenance of bone mass include calcium, vitamin D, protein, potassium, and soy isoflavones. Other factors present in plant-based diets such as oxalic acid and phytic acid can potentially interfere with absorption and retention of calcium and thereby have a negative effect on BMD. Impaired vitamin B-12 status also negatively affects BMD. The role of protein in calcium balance is multifaceted. Overall, calcium and protein intakes in accord with Dietary Reference Intakes are recommended for vegetarians, including vegans. Fortified foods are often helpful in meeting recommendations for calcium and vitamin D. Plant-based diets can provide adequate amounts of key nutrients for bone health.