A recent meta-analysis found that military personnel who experienced one or more stress fractures had lower vitamin D levels compared to those didn’t.
Stress fractures are of important concern among military personnel enduring basic training. Around 5% of males and 20% of females experience a stress fracture during training, which can cause them to miss training sessions or be forced to drop out altogether.
Researchers have long studied the effects of vitamin D on bone health and fracture risk. This research has been conducted in the military population, but overall there is a lack of understanding of this relationship among this high-risk group.
Recently, a group of researchers from Canada looked at number of studies on stress fractures in military personnel.
In total, 8 studies were examined and included a total of 2,634 military personnel. Among these, 761 had a stress fracture and 1,873 did not have a stress fracture.
Of the 8 studies, 3 of them measured vitamin D levels at the time of the stress fracture and the other 5 measured vitamin D levels at entry into basic training.
The researchers compared the vitamin D levels of those with a stress fracture to those without to see if a relationship existed.
They found that the average vitamin D levels of those with stress fractures were lower than those without a stress fracture. This relationship was the same whether vitamin D levels were measured at time of entry or time of stress fracture.
“Despite the inherent limitations of the included studies, the study results suggest some association between low serum vitamin D levels and lower extremity stress fractures in military personnel,” the researchers concluded.
“Given the rigorous training of military personnel, implementing strategies to ensure sufficient vitamin D levels may be beneficial for reducing the risk of stress fractures.”