Vegetarian diets contain many beneficial properties as well as carry a risk of inadequate intakes of several nutrients important to bone health. The aim of the study was to evaluate serum levels of bone metabolism markers and to analyze the relationships between biochemical bone markers and anthropometric parameters in children on vegetarian and omnivorous diets. The study included 70 prepubertal children on a lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet and 60 omnivorous children. Body composition, bone mineral content (BMC), and bone mineral density (BMD) were assessed by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. Biochemical markers-bone alkaline phosphatase (BALP), C-terminal telopeptide of type I collagen (CTX-I), osteoprotegerin (OPG), nuclear factor κB ligand (RANKL), sclerostin, and Dickkopf-related protein 1 (Dkk-1)-were measured using immunoenzymatic assays. In vegetarians, we observed a significantly higher level of BALP (p = 0.002) and CTX-I (p = 0.027), and slightly lower spine BMC (p = 0.067) and BMD (p = 0.060) than in omnivores. Concentrations of OPG, RANKL, sclerostin, and Dkk-1 were comparable in both groups of children. We found that CTX-I was positively correlated with BMC, total BMD, and lumbar spine BMD in vegetarians, but not in omnivores. A well-planned vegetarian diet with proper dairy and egg intake does not lead to significantly lower bone mass; however, children following a lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet had a higher rate of bone turnover and subtle changes in bone regulatory markers. CTX-I might be an important marker for the protection of vegetarians from bone abnormalities.
KEYWORDS: bone metabolism markers; bone mineral density; prepubertal period; vegetarian diet