Hansen TH; Madsen MTB; Jorgensen NR; Cohen AS; Hansen T; Vestergaard H; Pedersen O; Allin KH. - - Eur J Clin Nutr 2018; in press

Bone turnover, calcium homeostasis, and vitamin D status in Danish vegans


A vegan diet has been associated with increased bone fracture risk, but the physiology linking nutritional exposure to bone metabolism has only been partially elucidated. This study investigated whether a vegan diet is associated with increased bone turnover and altered calcium homeostasis due to insufficient intake of calcium and vitamin D.


Fractionated and total 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)-D), parathyroid hormone (PTH), calcium, and four bone turnover markers (osteocalcin, N-terminal propeptide of type I procollagen (PINP), bone-specific alkaline phosphatase (BAP), and C-terminal telopeptide of type I collagen ( CTX)) were measured in serum from 78 vegans and 77 omnivores.


When adjusting for seasonality and constitutional covariates (age, sex, and body fat percentage ) vegans had higher concentrations of PINP (32 [95% CI: 7, 64]%, P = 0.01) and BAP (58 [95% CI: 27, 97]%, P < 0.001) compared to omnivores, whereas CTX (30 [95% CI: −1, 72]%, P = 0.06) and osteocalcin (21.8 [95% CI: −9.3, 63.7]%, P = 0.2) concentrations did not differ between the two groups. Vegans had higher serum PTH concentration (38 [95% CI: 19, 60]%; P < 0.001) and lower 25(OH)-D serum concentration (−33 [95% CI: −45, −19]%; P < 0.001), but similar serum calcium concentration (−1 [95% CI: −3, 1]%, P = 0.18 compared to omnivores.


Vegans have higher levels of circulating bone turnover markers compared to omnivores, which may in the long-term lead to poorer bone health . Differences in dietary habits including intake of vitamin D and calcium may, at least partly, explain the observed differences.