Bone mineral density of vegetarian and non-vegetarian adults in Taiwan

Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2008;17(1):101-6.


Diet is thought to be one of the leading causes of bone mineral loss in aging people. In this study, we explored the potential impact of a vegetarian diet on bone mineral density (BMD) in adult Taiwanese men and women. This was a cross-sectional study of the relationship between diet (vegetarian versus non-vegetarian) and BMD and the incidence of osteoporosis. Bone mineral density was determined in a cohort of 1865 adult male and female patients who underwent routine examination in a regional teaching hospital in Taiwan between February 2003 and February 2004. Subjects with definite vertebral problems, known osteopathy, or poor posture were excluded. Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) was used to determine BMD, on the right hip in men and on lumbar vertebrae L2 to L4 in women. The subjects were grouped according to sex and diet, and were then stratified by age within each of the four groups. The outcome measures were the BMD value and the incidence of osteopenia or osteoporosis according to defined criteria. Bone mineral density gradually declined with increasing age in Taiwanese men, while Taiwanese women showed a precipitous decrease in BMD after the 5th decade. However, no statistical differences in BMD were observed between vegetarians and non-vegetarians of either sex. The proportion of subjects with osteopenia or osteoporosis also appeared comparable between vegetarians and non-vegetarians of either sex. BMD shows an age-related decline in Taiwanese men and women, and eating a vegetarian diet does not appear to affect this decline.

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Bone Density / drug effects
  • Bone Density / physiology*
  • Bone Density Conservation Agents / administration & dosage
  • Bone Diseases, Metabolic / epidemiology
  • Calcium, Dietary / administration & dosage
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet, Vegetarian*
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meat
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoporosis / epidemiology*
  • Plant Proteins, Dietary / administration & dosage
  • Taiwan


  • Bone Density Conservation Agents
  • Calcium, Dietary
  • Dietary Proteins
  • Plant Proteins, Dietary