Vitamin D Helps Reduce Risk of Stress Fractures in Young
Sticks and stones may break your bones, and so may low vitamin D intake. Recent studies show that dairy and calcium intakes had no affect on the amount of stress fractures in pre-teens and teens that were studied over a seven-year period. But vitamin D made the cut. A study of nearly 7,000 girls ages nine to fifteen showed that getting enough vitamin D reduced the risk of stress fractures and vice versa.
A related study revealed that stress fractures are becoming more common with this teens as they play more sports. As they log hours of practice and sports play, overuse of the muscles and bones used in their activities make small stress fractures in their bones more likely. And the harder they play, the worse it gets. High-impact activities, like gymnastics, cheer leading, running and basketball put girls at most risk. Logging more than four hours of these activities per week also made getting stress fractures more likely. Each hour of this type of exercise per week increased their risk of getting a stress fracture by eight percent. Putting in eight hours of these type of activities weekly doubled their risk. Kocher, Associate Director of Sports Medicine at Children’s who headed this study, stressed the importance of early detection to prevent the need for surgery.
We all know that calcium is important for bone density and strength, so common sense says to take more calcium to help. But the study showed that calcium and dairy intakes were unrelated to a lower number of stress fractures, and only vitamin D intake helped. For this reason, the authors of this study support the recent daily increase of Vitamin D suggested by the Institute of Medicine from 400 IUs to 600 IUs per day for teens.
Exercise holds many benefits for young and old. These include less obesity and less risk for other diseases, better mood, clearer thinking, and a stronger sense of self-esteem. These occur as a result of a “feel-good” chemical release, more circulation, and better sleep and metabolism. Besides helping calcium absorption, Vitamin D also helps the immune system and helps nerves and muscles to work. Stress fractures can halt exercise routines crucial for health. Getting enough vitamins and minerals, including calcium, remains important. Getting enough Vitamin D, however, will go a long way towards encouraging teens to continue habits that enhance their health and well-being.
Diane Dean, RN-BC, LPC, CEG is a licensed registered nurse, professional counselor, professionally-trained coach and medical writer who owns and Epiphany! Counseling & Wellness Center is Pittsburgh, PA.