What do healthy bones need? Calcium is most likely the first thing to come to mind. But a new study reinforces the evidence that vitamin D also plays an essential role in bone health. Researchers from the Children s Hospital Boston report that a higher level of vitamin D intake may protect girls against stress fractures.
The study, published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, assessed the dairy, calcium, and vitamin D intake of over 6,700 girls aged nine to 15. Researchers followed the participants for seven years, tracking the occurrence of stress fractures, which often result from sports activities. About 4 percent of the girls developed a stress fracture over the course of the study, but those girls who had the highest level of vitamin D intake were 50 percent less likely to have a stress fracture than girls with the lowest vitamin D consumption. Contrary to what one might expect, higher calcium intake was actually linked to an increase in stress fracture risk: Those girls with the highest intake were twice as likely to develop such a fracture, a finding unexplained by the authors.
ACSH s Dr. Ruth Kava notes that this study reminds us of the importance of vitamin D to bone health. It doesn t matter how much calcium you consume, she says, If you don t have enough vitamin D, your body won t be able to absorb it. Aside from sunshine, fortified dairy products and breakfast cereals, some fish, and supplements are also good sources of vitamin D.