The effects of calorie restriction, intermittent fasting and vegetarian diets on bone health

Nicola Veronese, Jean-Yves Reginster
Aging Clinical and Experimental Research 2019, 31 (6): 753-758
Uncountable health care organizations, clinicians, and individuals are striving to prevent obesity and the many chronic medical conditions linked to it by advocating a healthy lifestyle that includes measures such as reducing dietary calorie intake (i.e., calorie restriction = CR and intermittent fasting = IF) or limiting/abolishing animal source foods (i.e., practices termed vegetarianism and veganism). Although these regimens are traditionally considered healthy, their real impact on bone health has yet to be established, and some studies have reported that they have negative effects on bone outcomes. The current work provides an overview of the studies carried out to examine the effect/s of CR, IF and vegetarian/vegan diets on bone health, and, in particular, on bone mineral density (BMD) and fracture risk. Although data on this subject are limited to small studies and there is no information specifically referring to fractures, CR, but not IF, seems to reduce BMD but does not seem to affect bone quality. Vegetarian diets (particularly vegan ones) are associated with significantly lower BMD values with respect to omnivorous ones and could, potentially, increase the risk of fractures. Given these considerations, individuals who decide to follow these diets should be aware of the risk of osteoporosis and of bone fractures and should introduce dietary sources of calcium and Vitamin D and/or supplementation. Future studies examining fracture/osteoporosis incidence in selected populations will be able expand our knowledge about the safety of these diets and the risks linked to them.

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