Athletes who enjoy high-impact sports like running, ultimate frisbee or basketball can help prevent foot and leg stress fractures by getting extra daily dosages of Vitamin D.
We’ve touted the benefits of Vitamin D on our blog in the past, and today we find more evidence that suggests you shouldn’t skimp on the essential vitamin. According to research published in the Journal of Foot & Ankle Surgery, athletes and highly active individuals may need more Vitamin D intake than the average person if they want to avoid stress fractures in their legs and feet.
Vitamin D and Stress Fractures
To get a better understanding of the correlation between Vitamin D intake and stress fractures in athletes, researchers tracked a group of high-impact sport athletes who had a suspected stress fracture in their feet and ankles. The diagnosis of a stress fracture was confirmed via MRI, and none of the individuals had symptoms of an acute fracture. As we’ve noted before, an acute fracture occurs from a high-impact trauma, while a stress fracture occurs after repeated stress for a long duration. All of the participants in this study were dealing with stress fractures caused by repetitive action.
Three months after stress fracture diagnosis, researchers took blood samples from each individual. Researchers were surprised to see how many of these athletes failed to get an appropriate amount of Vitamin D in their diet. According to researchers, more than 80 percent of participants had insufficient or deficient Vitamin D levels, based on dietary recommendations from the Vitamin D Council. The council recommends that a person consumes 40-80 ng/mL of Vitamin D per day.
Based on the findings, lead author Dr. Jason R. Miller and colleagues suggest that athletes should strive for a minimum of 40 ng/ML of Vitamin D per day in order to decrease their risk of suffering a stress fracture. They also concluded that a gradual increase in activity level is needed in order to prevent painful stress fractures from settling in.
“We recommend that individuals who regularly exercise or enjoy participating in higher impact activities should be advised on proper and gradual training regimens to reduce the risk of developing a stress fracture,” said Dr. Miller.