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Arch Intern Med. 2005 Mar 28;165(6):684-9.

Low bone mass in subjects on a long-term raw vegetarian diet.

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Section of Applied Physiology, Division of Geriatrics and Nutritional Science, Department of Internal Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis, MO 63110, USA.



Little is known regarding the health effects of a raw food (RF) vegetarian diet.


We performed a cross-sectional study on 18 volunteers (mean +/- SD age, 54.2 +/- 11.5 years; male/female ratio, 11:7) on a RF vegetarian diet for a mean of 3.6 years and a comparison age- and sex-matched group eating typical American diets. We measured body composition, bone mineral content and density, bone turnover markers (C-telopeptide of type I collagen and bone-specific alkaline phosphatase), C-reactive protein, 25-hydroxyvitamin D, insulin-like growth factor 1, and leptin in serum.


The RF vegetarians had a mean +/- SD body mass index (calculated as weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in meters) of 20.5 +/- 2.3, compared with 25.4 +/- 3.3 in the control subjects. The mean bone mineral content and density of the lumbar spine (P= .003 and P<.001, respectively) and hip (P = .01 and P<.001, respectively) were lower in the RF group than in the control group. Serum C-telopeptide of type I collagen and bone-specific alkaline phosphatase levels were similar between the groups, while the mean 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentration was higher in the RF group than in the control group (P<.001). The mean serum C-reactive protein (P = .03), insulin-like growth factor 1 (P = .002), and leptin (P = .005) were lower in the RF group.


A RF vegetarian diet is associated with low bone mass at clinically important skeletal regions but is without evidence of increased bone turnover or impaired vitamin D status.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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