Vitamin D Health Benefits for Young Women: Top 5 Ways to Boost the Nutrient in Your Diet

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By Lisa Eadicicco | March 6, 2012 11:34 AM EST

A new study shows that girls and young women with large amounts of vitamin D in their diet are less likely to suffer stress fractures, according to Reuters. A stress fracture is a small crack in the bone that usually affects athletes such as runners and gymnasts.

"This study can add to the existing thought that adolescent girls and young women should be particularly cognizant of getting their vitamin D," Kendrin Sonneville of the Children's Hospital of Boston told Reuters.

Vitamin D levels are especially important for teenage girls, as bone strength is in a stage where it can be prone to osteoporosis later in life.

The findings don't prove that the vitamin directly prevents injuries, since there could be other differences in the girls who participated in the study that researchers didn't measure. But the results showed that those with the highest daily vitamin D intake were half as likely to have a stress fracture.

For those who are unsure about where to obtain Vitamin D, here are five strong sources of the bone-friendly nutrient.

1. Fish. The largest food group containing vitamin D comes from sources such as cod liver oil, swordfish, salmon, tuna, and sardines.  Very few foods contain this vitamin naturally, but the flesh of these fatty fish foods and fish liver oil are some of the best sources.

2. Sunlight. It is common for people to get a portion of their vitamin D intake through direct sun exposure. Referred to as the "sunlight nutrient," there are many factors that control just how much of the nutrient one absorbs from the sun, such as the season, the time of the day and skin melanin content.

3. Dairy products. Although dairy is typically associated with high amounts of calcium, it is also a significant source of vitamin D. Milk (including nonfat, reduced fat and whole), margarine, Swiss cheese and yogurt are ranked as selected food sources for vitamin D.

4. Beef liver. Three ounces of cooked beef liver is also a strong source of the vitamin.

5.  Breakfast foods. Cereal, orange juice, and eggs are all rich in vitamin D. Egg yolk, although high in cholesterol, also is a strong source of the vitamin. It is important to check the labeling on orange juice cartons, as vitamin D levels can vary.

These various sources of the recently studied vitamin leave plenty of opportunity to increase intake. Drinking a glass of orange juice in the morning or taking a stroll in the springtime sun can be casual additions to boost consumption. For exact measurements ensuring the healthiest doses of these foods, check out the Office of Dietary Supplements.

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