Active girls need vitamin D to prevent stress fractures

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Young girls may need vitamin D to lower their risk of stress fractures.
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Vitamin D is linked to lower risk of stress fractures in active young girls; especially during pre-adolescence and adolescence, finds a new study.

The study, published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, looked at stress fractures that are common among girls who engage in high impact sports.

A stress fracture occurs from overuse, or repeated force from activities like running and jumping and usually affect the large bones of the foot and lower leg.

Hallmark signs are swelling and pain that eases with rest. Girls who participate in basketball, gymnastics and track and field sports are more susceptible to stress fractures that require treatment to reduce the chances of long-term pain and disability from non-healing.

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Authors for the current study wanted to find out if vitamin D, calcium or dairy consumption were associated with fewer stress fractures in young girls. Data for the study included 6,712 preadolescent and adolescent girls who were part of the Growing Up Today Study, which was started in 1996. Participants were age 9 to 14 at the start of the study. The purpose of the study is to track influences on weight gain.

Researchers followed the girls for 7 years; during that time, 3.9% developed stress fractures that the investigators linked to vitamin D intake from foods, compared to calcium or dairy.

Natural sources of vitamin D include salmon, mackerel, egg yolk and sunshine, as well as tuna and sardines. Vitamin D2 is added to some foods. Milk is fortified with the vitamin.

The authors say the finding supports recommendations from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) that advised girls should increase dietary intake of vitamin D from 400IU daily to a minimum of 600 IU per day. More studies are needed to find out if vitamin D supplements confer the same benefits for reducing the chances of stress fractures in young girls.

Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine
"Vitamin D, Calcium, and Dairy Intakes and Stress Fractures Among Female Adolescents"
Kendrin R. Sonneville, ScD, RD, et al
March 5, 2012

Image credit: Morguefile

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