High serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D is associated with a low incidence of stress fractures

J Bone Miner Res. 2011 Oct;26(10):2371-7. doi: 10.1002/jbmr.451.


Low serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] concentrations are associated with hip fractures, but the dose-response relationship of serum 25(OH)D with risk of stress fractures in young women is unknown. This nested case-control study in a cohort of female Navy recruits was designed to determine whether those with low prediagnostic serum 25(OH)D concentrations had greater risk of stress fracture. Sera were drawn in 2002-2009 from 600 women who were diagnosed subsequently with stress fracture of the tibia or fibula and 600 matched controls who did not experience a stress fracture. The 25(OH)D concentration was measured using the DiaSorin radioimmunoassay method. Controls were individually matched to cases on race (white, black, or other), length of service (±30 days), and day blood was drawn (±2 days). There was approximately half the risk of stress fracture in the top compared with the bottom quintile of serum 25(OH)D concentration (odds ratio [OR] = 0.51, 95% CI 0.34-0.76, p ≤ 0.01). The range of serum 25(OH)D in the lowest quintile was 1.5 to 19.7 (mean 13.9) ng/mL, whereas in the highest it was 39.9 to 112 (mean 49.7) ng/mL. It is concluded that there was a monotonic inverse dose-response gradient between serum 25(OH)D and risk of stress fracture. There was double the risk of stress fractures of the tibia and fibula in women with serum 25(OH)D concentrations of less than 20 ng/mL compared to those with concentrations of 40 ng/mL or greater. A target for prevention of stress fractures would be a serum 25(OH)D concentration of 40 ng/mL or greater, achievable with 4000 IU/d of vitamin D(3) supplementation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Bone Density
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Fractures, Stress / epidemiology*
  • Fractures, Stress / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Radioimmunoassay
  • Vitamin D / analogs & derivatives*
  • Vitamin D / blood


  • Vitamin D
  • 25-hydroxyvitamin D