I am a vegan and have been fully vegan for 3 years now. I've been active and busy and taking my B-12 and other supplements pretty religiously. OK, I stopped the multivitamins and calcium for a few months after reading that most supplements are unnecessary. I don't recall where I heard or read this now, but a couple of friends stumbled on it, too, and did what I did.
Now, the doctors don't think I could have suffered the effects of stopping supplements in such a brief time, and I've been assured that only 3 years as a vegan could not cause it, but I have sustained a spontaneous fracture of my femur at the knee. The femur is the long thigh bone, the longest, strongest bone in the body! The gist of it is that this fracture is a sign of osteoporosis. My grandmother had it, my mother had it, and now apparently I have it. I am just 60 years old, off hormone replacement for several years now. 60 feels too young!
I'm right in the midst of getting the right attention for this. The orthopedist said to use a cane and "walk as little as possible and stand as little as possible." I live and work in New York City, and I travel to and from the office by subway. There are stairs I must use to go into the subway and come back out again. I live in a 2-story apartment that is located on the third and fourth floor of my apartment building. We have no elevator. When I'm not working I am in a rural area in a 2-story townhouse where until now, walking and hiking in nature and using the gym were big pluses. Not right now.
I asked my primary physician for his advice and he said: 1) get another bone density test; 2) see another orthopedist for a second opinion; and 3) start Boniva. While I awaited his referrals and prescription, and it took a reminder call and nearly a month to get them from him, I told my GYN and she was great. She also urged another opinion and suggested I see a local rheumatologist who specializes in osteoporosis. I have an appointment with him in two days. I finally got the script but have decided not to fill it until I see the specialist. My GYN assured me that the vast majority of women on this type of medication experience no serious side effects and that those who do have either been taking chemotherapy simultaneously or have been on it for longer than five years, so they stop at five years and the benefit usually continues for up to 10 more years.
I tried to get the new bone density and found out that my insurance company only pays for them every 2 years, so I'm not eligible until July. They may allow it if my doctor appeals a denial, but I might be on the hook for $350. I declined to book it for now.
Morals of this story? If you're over 50 (whether you are vegan, vegetarian or omnivore), get your bone density tests, take your calcium and Vitamin D, and if you sustain an unexplained fracture, demand to be evaluated for osteoporosis. And don't assume the medical people treating you are staying on top of everything. Nowadays many are overworked and not as responsive as we've come to expect. We have to be ready to manage our own care or demand help when we need it.
No, we aren't necessarily too young!
Here's a link to remind us how to eat for bone health: nutritionresearchcenter.