Although I think times are changing, how often have we heard to focus on increasing calcium intake for the stress fracture prone running population? Yes, it is true that calcium plays an important role in bone development; but there’s only so much calcium can do without vitamin D. Vitamin D promotes the absorption of calcium and is required for bone growth and remodeling.
Research published this month in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine concluded this very point. They followed over 6,700 adolescent girls for 7 years. The study found that dairy and calcium intake didn’t seem to have a relationship with stress fracture risk. It was the girls consuming the highest level of vitamin D that had the lowest risk of stress fracture when compared to the girls with low intake of vitamin D. Fracture risk was decreased by as much as 52% in girls who were involved in one or more hours of high-impact activity per day.
There are a number of reasons a stress fracture may develop both related and unrelated to diet. This study suggests that those at risk for stress fractures may want to make consuming sufficient vitamin D a priority. The current recommended dietary allowance for vitamin D is 600 IU/day. The body does produce vitamin D from sunlight, but it’s wise to make effort to include vitamin D rich food sources in the diet.
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