Going dairy-free may increase risk of bone breaks in future

Tuesday 18th April 2017
Giving up dairy and failing to replace calcium from another source could increase osteoporosis risk, experts warn. Image: byheaven via iStock
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The workload of radiographers could be set to increase markedly in the future, as a new report reveals people who embark on diet fads such as going dairy-free for no medical reason are putting themselves at greater risk of osteoporosis.

According to a survey carried out by the National Osteoporosis Society, one-fifth of under-25s in the UK are eating less dairy than they should be and failing to replace it in their diet with another source of calcium.

Although cutting out items such as milk, cheese and yoghurt can be fine if calcium is obtained from nuts, seeds and fish instead, it is becoming increasingly trendy for people - in particular young women - to give up products containing lactose and not replace them with anything else.

The Food Standards Agency recently conducted a poll that led to the discovery that almost half of 16 to 24-year-olds say they are intolerant to dairy products, when actually under one-quarter had been diagnosed as lactose-intolerant by a doctor. In comparison, just eight per cent of over-75s said they couldn't eat dairy.

This therefore suggests that young people are being swayed by fads such as so-called 'clean eating', which is a popular trend on social media and is advocated by many high-profile bloggers and vloggers.

But experts are warning that cutting out food groups could be causing long-term damage to their health, particularly where their bone strength is concerned.

Speaking to BBC News, Professor Susan Lanham-New, head of nutritional sciences at the University of Surrey and clinical advisor to the National Osteoporosis Society, explained: "Diet in early adulthood is so important because by the time we get into our late 20s, it is too late to reverse the damage caused by poor diet and nutrient deficiencies and the opportunity to build strong bones has passed."

With this in mind, young people need to be made aware that they are potentially weakening their bones and making them more likely to break in the future by completely cutting out dairy from their diets now.

If they do need to do so for medical reasons, then it is vital that they are getting their calcium from elsewhere in order to prevent their risk of developing osteoporosis, which can be a debilitating condition.

Written by Megan Smith

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