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The Female Athlete Triad: Are You (Or Your Daughter) At Risk?

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In the movie “Rush Hour 3,” Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker race, and stumble, across Paris trying to protect a French woman from the menace of a criminal organization called The Triad. But the danger they fear from The Triad is nothing compared to the dangers of what the Journal of the American College of Orthopedic Surgeons identifies as the Female Athlete Triad. Symptoms include low energy availability or too few calories, menstrual cycleabnormalities (40 percent of female athletes have irregular periods), and low bone mineral density, setting up young female athletes for bone loss, stress injuries and fractures.

If you have one symptom, the likelihood that you’ll sustain a bone injury rises 15 to 21 percent; two symptoms boost it to 21 to 30 percent; and with all three it’s a whopping 29 to 50 percent. Girls and women participating in athletics that demand intense weight control, such as gymnastics and ice skating, are particularly vulnerable.

Beautiful woman playing a match of squashBut it’s possible to be a world-class athlete without risking low energy or brittle bones. Serena Williams trained her way to her sixth Wimbledon championship while maintaining a killer bod! Here’s what to do:

-Eat sufficient calories so your body fat never falls below 12 percent.

-Get fuel from bone-building foods rich in calcium, magnesium and vitamin D: green, leafy veggies, D-enriched whole-grain cereal, low-fat dairy, almonds, salmon and tuna.

-Have your vitamin D level checked, and ask about taking a vitamin D-3 supplement
to help your body absorb calcium. Take half a multivitamin in the morning and at night.

Now go play hard – try 40 jumps a day to build hip bone strength.

© 2015 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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