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Copyright 2013 Natural Standard (
March 2012

Vitamin D Intake Linked to Lower Stress Fracture Risk

Adolescent girls who engage in high-impact physical activity may lower stress fracture risk by consuming more vitamin D, according to a study.

A fracture or broken bone occurs when a force exerted against a bone is stronger than it can structurally withstand. A bone fracture is a medical condition in which a bone is cracked or broken. While many fractures are the result of high force impact or stress, bone fracture may also occur as a result of certain medical conditions that weaken the bones, such as osteoporosis or certain types of cancer. Bone healing or fracture healing is a process in which the body facilitates the repair of bone fractures. Fractures are among the most common orthopedic (bone-related) problems. About 6.8 million fractures receive medical attention each year in the United States. The average citizen in a developed country can expect to sustain two fractures over the course of their lifetime.

Researchers recruited 6,712 girls between the ages of nine and 15 who took part in high-impact physical activity. The subjects answered questionnaires on calcium, dairy and vitamin D intake, while their mothers reported on any incident stress fractures that took place during the seven-year study period.

About 3.9 percent of the subjects developed a stress fracture during the study. Although dairy and calcium intake was unrelated to stress fracture risk, higher vitamin D intake was significantly associated with a lower risk.

The scientists concluded that consuming vitamin D may help reduce the risk of stress fractures among adolescent girls who engage in frequent physical activity.

Vitamin D is found in many dietary sources, such as fish, eggs, fortified milk and cod liver oil. The sun also contributes significantly to the daily production of vitamin D, and as little as 10 minutes of exposure is thought to be enough to prevent deficiencies. The term "vitamin D" refers to several different forms of this vitamin. Two forms are important in humans: ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) and cholecalciferol (vitamin D3). Vitamin D2 is synthesized by plants. Vitamin D3 is synthesized by humans in the skin when it is exposed to ultraviolet B (UVB) rays from sunlight. Foods may be fortified with vitamin D2 or D3. The major biologic function of vitamin D is to maintain normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus. Vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium. It is used, alone or in combination with calcium, to increase bone mineral density and decrease fractures. Because it is typically administered with calcium, it is difficult to distinguish the effects of vitamin D.

Some research suggests that vitamin D may have a protective effect against some cancers. Recent research has also suggested that vitamin D may provide protection from osteoporosis, hypertension (high blood pressure), cancer and several autoimmune diseases.

For more information about vitamin D, please visit Natural Standard's Foods, Herbs & Supplements Database.


  1. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine.
  2. Sonneville KR, Gordon CM, Kocher MS. Vitamin D, Calcium, and Dairy Intakes and Stress Fractures Among Female Adolescents. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2012 Mar 5. View Abstract
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