A healthy mind needs a healthy body. One of the common deficiencies in children is of Vitamin D. It is important to understand that growth starts from when the baby is in the womb. The mother-to-be should ensure she has balanced and nutritious meals, to ensure proper growth of the baby. Even after birth and throughout life adequate levels of Vitamin D is essential.
Deficiency of normal levels of Vitamin D in kids can lead to rickets, a disease that causes softening of bones and skeletal abnormalities. The condition is normally coupled with Calcium deficiency in the blood and can lead to deformity, severe heart problems and other painful conditions.
The deficiency in the baby can be avoided by the mother having a healthy, nutritious and balanced diet. Many questions arise as to what this deficiency causes, its symptoms, risks, treatment etc. Learning all about this deficiency is a key factor in helping prevent it. Here is how and why of Vitamin D deficiency in kids.
Why is Vitamin D important for Children?
Vitamin D for kids is vital for your child’s development and is available in nature in the form of early morning sunlight.
A deficiency of Vitamin D can lead to –
- Rickets, also known as soft bones disease, leading to fractures and skeletal deformities
- Unhealthy immune system, infections
- Juvenile arthritis
Causes of Low Vitamin D in a Child
Causes of Vitamin D deficiency in kids are –
- Poor intake of nutritious and balanced food
- Lack of sunlight as the covered skin cannot synthesize Vitamin D
- Wearing dark-coloured clothes
Signs and Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency in Kids
Common signs and symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency in kids are
- Muscle cramps, seizures and breathing difficulties
- Delayed teething
- Irritable and fussy children
- Being prone to various respiratory infections
- Difficult breathing due to rib cage softening
- Poor growth and low weight
- A weakening of heart muscles
- Typical symptoms of rickets like a soft skull, bones of the legs looking curved, severe and repeated bouts of pain in the legs and muscles and general weakness.
Vitamin D Rich Foods
Food is the main source of minerals, vitamins, proteins etc. for a growing child. Hence a balanced diet with proper vitamins and minerals is very important to keep any health-risk away. An indicative list of Vitamin D rich foods is given below.
- Oily fish like mackerel, cod etc.
- Egg yolk
- Soya milk
- Infant formula milk
- Cereals and millets
- Dairy products like milk, butter, curd, yoghurt etc.
- Fruit juices especially orange juice
- Cod liver oil
Vitamin D Dosage for Children
Vitamin D deficiency can be mild or severe. Treatment and the dosage depend on whether such deficiency of normal Vitamin D levels in kids is mild or severe. A paediatrician should be consulted.
Recommended dosage as per age for Vitamin D:
- An infant, up to 12 months of age, requires 10mcg of vitamin D on daily basis.
- For kids older than 1 year, the dosage is 15mcg.
How is Vitamin D Deficiency Treated in Kids?
Treatment for Vitamin D deficiency in kids should be done as per the degree of severity of the deficiency and on the advice of a paediatrician.
- Bare body exposure to the sun for a limited time is beneficial.
- A healthy and balanced diet is a must.
- Stoss therapy or high dose Vitamin D therapy is recommended when the deficiency is severe.
- The treatment can be oral or intra-muscular.
- Injections of Vitamin D may be administered to fussy children who do not take oral medicines.
- The effects generally last for about 6 months
- It may be recommended to take calcium and phosphorous supplements or multivitamins to help build stronger bones.
During further studies on a batch of 500 critically ill children, deficiency in the Vitamin D, was more likely to cause the child to be sicker and have longer hospital stays. Based on their research, The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends that children over the age of 1 get 600 international units (IU) of the vitamin daily.
How Can You Prevent Your Child from Getting Deficiency of Vitamin D?
Prevention is always better than cure. Learning how to prevent such deficiencies in kids is essential. Here is how we can do this and give the child a healthy future.
- Allow your child to play in the sun daily, unprotected and bare bodied, for a little while.
- Vitamin D deficiency, especially in breast-fed infants, can be prevented by the mother having a balanced Vitamin D dosage during pregnancy and lactation.
- If the deficiency is present the paediatrician will advice Vitamin D supplements for kids from the first day of life itself.
- Ensure you prepare food rich in multivitamins as the child grows.
- You can provide Vitamin D supplements to growing children on a daily basis.
- When in doubt, speak to your paediatrician and get your child tested for any Vitamin D deficiency.