Vegan Diets Estimated to Provide Neutral Acid Load

I’ve had a study on the acid load of vegan diets in my queue for awhile now and finally read it carefully. I just added this to the Bones, Vitamin D, and Calcium article at

“Sulfur-containing amino acids are more prevalent in animal products, although they are also found in high amounts in many grains. A 2011 study from Germany tracked the diets of 98 vegans and 56 near-vegans for a week and used models to predict the effect of their diets on renal acid load. They found both diets to be neutral, whereas other studies show a typical omnivorous diet to be more acid producing (1).”

One thing that surprised me about this study was that they estimated that the vegans were consuming an average of 854 mg/day of calcium. That’s one of the higher estimates I’ve seen and the study didn’t indicate that they included supplements or calcium from fortified foods.

Since they merely estimated the acid load from models, rather than actually measuring it directly, the conclusion should be taken with some caution. And, as I’ve said many times before, the acid load of a vegan diet might not have all that much to do with the risk of osteoporosis for vegans – calcium and vitamin D appear to be much more important (see the link above on bones for more information).


1. Ströhle A, Waldmann A, Koschizke J, Leitzmann C, Hahn A. Diet-dependent net endogenous acid load of vegan diets in relation to food groups and bone health-related nutrients: results from the German Vegan Study. Ann Nutr Metab. 2011;59(2-4):117-26. Link

5 Responses to “Vegan Diets Estimated to Provide Neutral Acid Load”

  1. Paul Borst Says:


    98 and 56 are fairly small sample sizes. Were the results statistically significant?


  2. Jack Norris RD Says:

    There was no control group, unless you are asking if there were differences between the vegans and near-vegans. There wasn’t much difference between the 2 groups, unsurprisingly. For a study of this sort, measuring renal acid load, those numbers are pretty decent, in my opinion.

  3. Paul Borst Says:

    Thanks Jack. I wonder how raw vegans would fare. Not eating much grain but probably less calcium intake as well.


  4. Jack Norris RD Says:

    I think raw vegans would do better.

  5. Arcadio Says:

    I think here in Germany vegans drink a lot of soy milk (almost all brands are fortified) and probably eat a lot of tofu, too (usually als has lots of calcium here).

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