(NaturalNews) Conventional wisdom holds that calcium and dairy products are needed for strong, healthy bones and teeth. However, recent research published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine shows that vitamin D intake may actually be the more essential nutrient for strong bones. The team of researchers, who hailed from various medical establishments in Boston, MA, followed over 6700 girls between 9 and 15 years of age from 1996-2001. The research was conducted via questionnaire sent at 12-24 month intervals, asking about dietary intake of calcium, dairy and vitamin D along with stress fracture incidence. It was found that while dairy and calcium intake was unrelated to the incidence of stress fractures, there was an inverse relationship between vitamin D intake and the occurrence of stress fractures. Those with a higher vitamin D intake had a lower risk of stress fractures.
Stress fractures are a common injury that plagues athletes, especially teenage girls. They are caused by high levels of pressure or stress on the bone and can sometimes develop over time, even without any noticeable injury. The scientists discovered that girls involved in more than one hour a day of a high stress activity were especially protected by vitamin D intake.
While it has long been known that severe Vitamin D deficiency results in rickets, a serious disease which prevents mineralization of the bones and results in skeletal deformities, it is now being discovered that less severe deficiencies can result in weaker bones that are more prone to stress and injury. Previous studies have shown that vitamin D deficiency in individuals over 50 leads to increased risk of fractures, however, this recent research shows that younger individuals are also very susceptible to fractures due to vitamin D deficiency. This is likely because vitamin D is necessary for the proper use of calcium and phosphorus in the bone. While rickets is generally very rare in the United States and developed world, many people may not receive enough vitamin D for optimal health.
Vitamin D dosage and sources of vitamin D
The RDA or as it's now known as, the reference dietary intake, for vitamin D was set at 600 IU for individuals between 1 and 70 years of age in November 2010. However, many medical professionals believe that these levels are too low. The best way to determine the amount of vitamin D one needs for optimal health is to have one's blood levels checked as it's highly individual, and depends on how much one manufactures from the sun or gets from food sources.
The sun is obviously the largest source of vitamin D. However, how much vitamin D you are able to produce from the sun depends on your skin tone, degree of latitude, amount of skin exposure and time of day. The most vitamin D is produced when the majority of the skin is exposed during mid-day. It should also be noted that sunscreens that block ultra-violet rays, also block the production of vitamin D. Food sources of vitamin D include egg yolk, fish, fish oil, cod liver oil, cheese and beef liver.
While further research needs to be done, this study illuminates the importance of proper vitamin D intake for young, female athletes.
About the author: Amelia Bentrup is the owner and editor of http://www.my-home-remedies.com a well-researched collection of natural home remedies. Discover natural cures for a variety of ailments and find specific information and safety guidelines for various herbs, vitamins, minerals and essential oils.