The Hidden Epidemic: Vitamin D Deficiency in Kids and Its Effects

Vitamin D is important for children as it helps in the growth and development of their bones. But if their tiny bodies don’t get enough vitamin D, it can have negative health effects such as weakened immunity, poor bone and muscle strength, and gastrointestinal infections. There are many causes, symptoms, and long-term impacts of vitamin D deficiency in children. Let’s learn a little about these deficiencies caused by a lack of vitamin D, along with tips for prevention and cure.

About Vitamin D Deficiency

About Vitamin D Deficiency

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that helps maintain overall health and well-being. It has several vital roles in the body, like maintaining bone and muscle health and building immunity. Vitamin D deficiency can lead to poor immunity and impaired calcium absorption, which weakens bones and increases the risk of diseases like rickets in kids. Lack of vitamin D can also lead to delayed physical growth and a risk of diseases like cardiovascular and autoimmune diseases (1).

Causes of Vitamin D Deficiency in Children

Vulnerable Age Groups

Newborns can be at risk of vitamin D deficiency due to insufficient sun exposure and dependency on mostly breast milk or formula, while toddlers, young kids, and teenagers can develop this deficiency due to lack of proper diet, less sunlight, or an underlying medical condition like diabetes.

Regional Variations

Some other factors can be geographical, like areas with harsh winters and low sunlight. Kids who don’t step out to play will have limited sun exposure. Also, kids who are picky eaters or have poor dietary habits have a major chance of developing Vitamin D deficiency.

Dietary Habits

If a child is not eating foods high in vitamin D, it may lead to vitamin D deficiencies. It’s possible that children who don’t eat foods like fatty fish, fortified dairy products, and egg yolks won’t get the recommended quantity of this nutrient from their diet.

Medical Conditions

Several medical problems in kids can compromise the body’s capacity to adequately absorb vitamin D. Obesity, kidney illnesses, and gastrointestinal disorders are a few examples of these conditions (2). If you are wondering what causes vitamin D deficiency, your pediatrician will be able to advise you better.

Symptoms in Children

Let’s look at some vital vitamin D deficiency symptoms to detect potential risks early.

  • Bone or joint aches
  • Muscle pain and weight gain (3)
  • Delay in physical growth
  • Falling sick very often
  • Tooth decay and dental problems
  • Mood swings and irritability
  • Difficulty in sleeping

Impact On Bone & Muscle Health

Without enough vitamin D, the body’s capacity to absorb calcium is reduced, which makes bones softer and weaker. This can then lead to diseases like rickets, where bones are prone to shatter and develop deformities. This also causes muscular weakness, making exercise and physical activity more difficult. Weakened muscles and fragile bones might limit a child’s mobility and general well-being and make them more vulnerable to fractures. That’s why it is crucial to know vitamin D deficiency facts.

Weakened Immunity

The lack of adequate vitamin D can not only weaken a child’s developing immune system but also make them more susceptible to autoimmune diseases, respiratory illnesses, and other health issues. Vitamin D is an important regulator to detect harmful substances entering the body. If the immune response control is hampered, a child will be more likely to develop an infection.

Some Risk Factors Involved

If you are asking yourself, ‘Why is my child low on vitamin D?’ It is important to know the causes associated with this deficiency.

  • Being cooped up indoors and doing limited outdoor activity
  • Seasonal changes
  • Dietary restrictions like no dairy product or fish intake
  • Skin pigmentation
  • Air pollution

Long-Term Impact

Acute vitamin D deficiency in children can lead to persistent bone conditions in children (4). This can take the form of –

  • Rickets and altered bone structure
  • Impaired immune system
  • Autoimmune infections
  • Osteoporosis

Prevention And Care

Make sure to consult your child’s pediatrician or doctor before implementing treatments. Foods high in this vitamin, like fatty fish and fortified dairy products, and vitamin D supplements can help prevent vitamin D deficiency in kids. If you are in two minds about your child’s nutrient intake, you can generate their nutrition score with www.tayyarijeetki.in. Just enter your child’s age, gender, height, weight, and food preferences and get a comprehensive result.

Appropriate sun exposure is important for children while taking precautions against overexposure or underexposure, especially where places get little sunlight. Regular checkups are also essential to keep track of your child’s health.

Just like other vitamins, Vitamin D plays a big role in shaping a child’s overall health and well-being. Shielding children from common infections is crucial as it can have an adverse impact long-term. Their immune system, bones, and muscle health should be strong and healthy to avoid such issues. Therefore, with safe sun exposure, dietary changes, or supplements in consultation with medical experts, you can ensure a healthy future for your child.

References

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  1. Vitamin D fortification of foods in India: present and past scenario
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0960076019302092
  2. Vitamin D Insufficiency and Deficiency in Children with Early Chronic Kidney Disease
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0022347608010743
  3. Vitamin D Deficiency: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments
    https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-d-deficiency-symptoms#symptoms
  4. Vitamin D, Diet and Musculoskeletal Health
    https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/15/13/2902
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