ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
New Spray Could Benefit Cystic Fibrosis Patients
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Licorice May Block Absorption of Organ Transplant Drug
Maggots as Good as Gel in Leg Ulcer Treatments
Tai Chi: An Ideal Exercise for Many People with Diabetes
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Beware of Dog Bites
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
BONES & JOINTS
Extra Pounds in Mid-Life Affect Later Mobility
B Cells Can Act Alone in Autoimmune Diseases
Body Fat, Muscle Distribution Linked to RA Disability
CANCER
Ginger Can Ease Nausea From Chemotherapy Treatments
Supplements Might Reduce Breast Cancer Risk
More Americans Urged to Get Cancer Screenings
CAREGIVING
TV Watching Doesn't Fast-Track Baby's Skills
Distance No Bar to Kidney Transplants in Remote Areas
Are Hospital Mobile Phones Dialing Up Superbugs?
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Anemia Rates Down for U.S. Women and Children
Secondhand Smoke Quickly Affects Blood Vessels
Migraines in Pregnancy Boost Vascular Risks
COSMETIC
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
DENTAL, ORAL
Acupuncture May Ease Anxiety Over Dental Work
Acid Drinks Blamed for Increase in Tooth Erosion
Gum Disease Might Boost Cancer Risk
DIABETES
Laughter May Lower Heart Attack Risk in Diabetics
Study Shows Turmeric May Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Formula Puts Doctor, Patient Glucose Readings on Same Page
DIET, NUTRITION
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
Eating Free Range
The 3LS Wellness Program for Reversing Chronic Symptoms and Creating Lasting Health
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Exposure to 9/11 Fumes Tied to Chronic Headaches
Meat-Eating Dinosaurs Used Legs and Arms Like Birds
Years of Exposure to Traffic Pollution Raises Blood Pressure
EYE CARE, VISION
Guard Kids' Eyes Against Long-Term Sun Damage
Statin Drugs Cause Eye Disorders
Contact Lens Cases Often Contaminated
FITNESS
Exercise Extends Life of Kidney Patients
After a Stroke, Light Exercise Gets Hands, Arms Working Again
Want to Stop Cancer? You Can, Experts Say
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
GENERAL HEALTH
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Can You Talk Your Way to Happy?
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
More Steps a Day Lead to Better Health
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
Drinking Your Way to Health? Perhaps Not
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Backpack Safety Should Be on Back-to-School Lists
Eating Fish, Breast-Feeding Boost Infant Development
Even Young Kids Can Learn CPR
MEN'S HEALTH
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Low Vitamin D Levels May Boost Men's Heart Attack Risk
MENTAL HEALTH
Meditation, Yoga Might Switch Off Stress Genes
Man's Best Friend Helps Mend Broken Hearts
Shop 'Til You Drop: You May Feel Better
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
Acupuncture May Relieve Acid Indigestation In Pregnancy
SENIORS
Life Expectancy in U.S. Hits New High
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
Exercise Benefits Even the Oldest Old
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
Soy May Not Lead to Denser Breasts
Natural Relief for Painful Menstrual Cramps
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Active Young Women Need Calcium, Vitamin D

FRIDAY, Nov. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Calcium and vitamin D supplements may do more than strengthen bones in older women. These vital nutrients may also help younger, active women reduce their risk of stress fractures.

To illustrate that point, many bone health experts refer to a recent study of more than 5,200 female U.S. Navy recruits that found that women who didn't take additional calcium and vitamin D were about 25 percent more likely to suffer a stress fracture than women who took the vitamin and mineral combination.

"The most common time for a stress fracture is when you're increasing your exercise levels -- when you're going from doing nothing to doing a whole lot. It's too much, too fast, and the bone can't handle it," explained Dr. Sabrina Strickland, an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in sports medicine at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.

"Before you embark on any sort of exercise regimen, take calcium and vitamin D supplements to reduce your chances of a stress fracture," she advised.

Stress fractures occur when muscles become tired and can't absorb shock properly. That force is then transferred to the bone instead. After time, that added shock can cause a tiny crack in the bone. More than half of all stress fractures occur in the lower leg, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Women are more likely to suffer stress fractures, particularly women involved in just one particular sport, such as running, tennis, gymnastics or basketball.

"Stress fractures are seen in people who do the same activity over and over again," said Dr. Elton Strauss, an associate professor of orthopedic surgery at the Mount Sinai Medical School in New York City.

In the Navy recruit study, the women were undergoing eight weeks of basic training. All were between the ages of 17 and 35. The women were randomly divided into two groups. One group was given daily supplements containing 2,000 milligrams of calcium and 800 international units of vitamin D, while the other group took a placebo.

More than 300 women developed a stress fracture. About 170 women who took a placebo experienced a stress fracture. That means about 25 percent more of the placebo group had a stress fracture compared to those taking the supplements.

Results of the study were presented at a recent meeting of the Orthopaedic Research Society.

"I recommend that all of my female patients take 1,200 to 1,500 milligrams of calcium citrate and 800 international units of vitamin D3 daily," said Strickland.

Strickland also advised that athletes should cross-train to avoid stress fractures. If you're a runner, she suggests lifting weights. "Don't just participate in impact activities," she cautioned.

Strauss agreed that cross-training is crucial for strengthening muscles and ligaments, which will help prevent stress fractures. "You shouldn't do the same sport seven days a week," he said.

Strauss also suggested making sure you get plenty of sleep. And, if you're participating in a lot of exercise, you should "push for at least 12 to 15 grams of protein at each meal." Protein is important for the metabolism of muscles and bones, he said.

Strauss also recommended getting adequate levels of calcium, because it's "good for the entire musculoskeletal system." He said he thought most runners and other athletes spend enough time outdoors that they might not need a vitamin D supplement, because the body makes vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. However, athletes who are vigilant about applying sunscreen may need the additional vitamin D.

Finally, when you begin a new activity, take it slow, Strickland advised. "Don't do too much too fast. The typical rule for runners, and one almost nobody follows, is to increase the amount of running by 10 percent each week," she said.

- Serena Gordon

More information

To learn more about stress fractures, visit the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.



SOURCES: Sabrina Strickland, M.D., orthopedic surgeon, Hospital for Special Surgery, assistant professor of orthopedic surgery, Weill Cornell Medical College, and chief, orthopedics, James J. Peters Veterans Affairs Medical Center, New York City; Elton Strauss, M.D., associate professor of orthopedic surgery, Mount Sinai Medical School, New York City

Last Updated: Nov. 07, 2008

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