Female Runners and Calcium
I wanted to ramble on a topic that has hit home for me. Recently I was asked to write a post about female runners and calcium. For any runner, especially female runners, Calcium and Vitamin D are essential for bone health.
If you don’t have proper bone density, you set yourself up for stress fractures. You cannot outrun your bone health.
Granted, getting enough calcium and Vitamin D is essential for males too, it is especially important for females. For females that have lost their period, this is EVEN MORE important (Do not ever argue, it’s not reasonable to not have your period). Females that have lost their periods do not absorb calcium correctly and their bones become weaker, which can lead to a stress fracture or bone break. When you do not have your period, your bones do not heal as quickly or as frequently.
As a Female Athlete, Why Should You Have More Calcium and Vitamin D?
- Both Calcium and Vitamin D play an essential role in Peak Bone Mass
- Less risk of Stress Fracture and Strong Bones
- Less Bone Loss
- Running is weight-bearing and as a distance runner you have your body weight impacting with every stride
If you have one stress fracture…you are much more likely to have another…and another…and another…
The woman who asked I post about female runners and calcium asked me to mention her backstory. She was a college-aged female who was busy, active and quite a fast runner (now top 50 marathoners in the US).
She didn’t get enough calcium. Her nutrition wasn’t terrible, but it was not spot on either. She was at a very rigorous school as well as being a varsity runner, so she had a lot going on. While nutrition was essential to her, it wasn’t the number one focus. She would also like to point out that, like many bloggers and female runners out there, she was not into drinking or partying.
As college continued, she began losing a lot of bone mass and density. This happened over a few years and by senior year, it led to her first stress fracture (ending her collegiate season). It healed eventually, and she was able to run again (and still be mind-boggling fast), but her bones were far weaker.
As she is 30 now, her bones will never be as strong as that of someone who got enough calcium during that time. She now gets stress fractures repeatedly. As in saying 8 weeks…no big deal…I’ll start running again after it heals..try doing that every few months because your bones are too weak. Female runners need both calcium and Vitamin D to maintain healthy bones. Vitamin D supplements are equally as crucial in the incidence of stress fractures.
I’m not saying that will happen to you; I think as young people, we take our health with a grain of salt and live in that “we aren’t injured now” so let’s keep going along the way we are…think about the future when it comes…
If you are a female lacking your period, you need to be getting more calcium then a regular person (runner or not). An ordinary person needs about 1000 mg daily and a female lacking a period needs 1700 mg of calcium or more. If you don’t have your period, you should talk with your doctor. Any female runner can benefit from calcium supplementation.
I strive for about 2000 milligrams a day because I’m paranoid about getting another stress fracture. You should aim to get your calcium intake from dairy, food. Plus, I enjoy a lot of dairy in my life. I usually take a calcium supplement as well as my multivitamin, which brings me pretty far up.
If you aren’t sure what to do, I suggest speaking with a sports medicine doctor or certified dietician. I cannot emphasize the importance of female runners and calcium and the importance of not losing your period.
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Question for you: Female Runners: Do you get enough calcium?