Calcium and Vitamin D are vital nutrients for bone health, key for the amount of stress the tibia and fibula undergo for runners! Deficient in these two nutrients will leave you at risk of shin splits and even worse, a stress fracture.Calcium and vitamin D work together, calcium helps to build bones while vitamin D absorbs the calcium.
In combination, they are seen to reduce the risk of bone fractures by 30%.When calcium and vitamin D is insufficient, the body is forced to increase the processes called osteolysis which is used to maintain calcium homeostasis in the body. This increased process decreases bone strength and puts the bones at risk of fractures.As a general rule, most should aim for 1000mg calcium daily (though some may require more e.g. if recovering from bone fractures), and 10mg vitamin D.
Bioavailability of calcium is highest in dairy food, but plant-based options such as tofu and a large amount of leafy greens are also good options. The key source of vitamin D is sunlight, but foods such as egg yolks and fortified foods such as cereals are also good sources.
An example of a balanced snack for getting in vitamin D and calcium would be an omelette with added spinach made with milk / cereal with milk (watching the sugar content in the cereals used).Take home message; make sure you are thinking about your calcium and vitamin D intake especially if you are prone to shin splints in order to avoid stress fractures! Look after those all important bones because we sure rely on them a lot as runners – they endure many miles for us so provide them with the nutrients they need!