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More active lifestyle? More vitamin D

Stress fractures were linked with low levels of the vitamin among participants in high impact activities in a new study.

If you’re an aggressive athlete who loves high-impact sports, or merely a non-aggressive klutz who falls down a lot during low-impact sports, you might need more vitamin D, according to new research.

In a retrospective cohort study, researchers analyzed the serum concentration of 25(OHD)D, which determines vitamin D status, in 124 patients with confirmed stress fractures. Stress fractures are small cracks or severe bruising in bones. They’re caused by overuse and repetitive activity and are common among athletes who participate in sports involving running, like basketball and soccer.

Eighty-three percent of the patients with stress fractures had low levels of vitamin D, according to the study’s results, published in the Journal of Foot & Ankle Surgery. Those patients had serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels of 40 ng/mL or below.

"Based on these findings, we recommend a serum vitamin D level of at least 40 ng/mL to protect against stress fractures, especially for active individuals who enjoy participating in higher-impact activities," lead investigator Jason Miller, DPM, FACFAS, Fellowship Director of the Pennsylvania Intensive Lower Extremity Fellowship, foot and ankle surgeon from Premier Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, in Malvern, Pennsylvania, and Fellow Member of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons said in a release about the study. "This correlates with an earlier study of 600 female Navy recruits who were found to have a twofold greater risk of stress fractures of the tibia and fibula with a vitamin D level of less than 20 ng/mL compared with females with concentrations above 40 ng/mL.”

The new research is interesting in light of a study presented at the 2015 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons that found that one third of Division I athletes may have low vitamin D levels.

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