Study: Vitamin D in pre-teen girls protects from bone injuries

A new study reveals that girls and young women who get lots of vitamin D through their diet and supplements are half as likely to suffer a stress fracture as those who don’t.

Stress fractures are small cracks in the bone that typically results from high-impact exercise, including running or gymnastics. Bone strength in teenage girls is linked to the risk of osteoporosis and more serious injuries later in life.

High dietary calcium was always thought to be protective against stress fractures. But according to findings published yesterday in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, it was higher levels of vitamin D in girls aged 9 to 15 that were tied to fewer injuries, not calcium.

“We know that calcium is important for bone health, so we were surprised to find that vitamin D was only found to be protective,” Kendrin Sonneville, an author of the study, remarked. “Our findings in no way suggest that calcium is not important.”

Milk, fortified foods such as breakfast cereals and soy products, and foods that naturally contain vitamin D such as salmon and eggs are good sources of this vitamin. Still, Sonneville said, doctors typically recommend girls and young women take a supplement that includes vitamin D, because it’s not always easy to get enough through food.

Vitamin D is needed for the absorption of calcium and has been shown to boost immunity and prevent certain ailments. I have found in practice that many people with chronic or recurrent conditions are deficient in vitamin D. It’s important to know your status so the appropriate dosage can be prescribed. Speak to your medical or naturopathic doctor about having your vitamin D levels tested.

Read more about vitamin D deficiency here.

SOURCE: Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, March 2012

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