Childhood vitamin D deficiency increases as their lives become more sedative and diets are not well-balanced. Sadly, this condition can lead to other issues that will be long-term or even permanent. In the United States, 7 out of 10 children are deficient in vitamin D. This is putting millions of children at risk for various heart or bone conditions.
The human body does not produce vitamin D without proper nutrition and sun exposure. It is a fat-soluble nutrient that the body absorbs with the fats in your diet. The other method of production is through the skin when exposed to the sun. Once produced, we store vitamin D in fatty tissue and the liver.
If you suspect a deficiency, a doctor can perform a blood test. According to the Nutrition Examination Survey and Science Daily, deficiency is indicated when the result is less than 15 ng/ml. Levels between 15 ng/ml and 29 ng/ml indicate an insufficiency.
Increasing vitamin D rich foods and careful exposure to sun are also great first steps to take. What are the side effects in children that have a deficiency?
Does a low vitamin D level result in unhealthy bone development?
Yes. The body cannot absorb calcium or phosphorus from the stomach or intestines when vitamin D levels are low. When that occurs, it forces the body to rob the skeleton of its calcium reserves. This creates weaker bones. The result is weaker and underdeveloped bones.
Are childhood bone fractures caused by a vitamin D deficiency?
Yes, that is possible, but not always the reason. When calcium levels in the bone are low, it compromises the density. This creates a more fragile skeleton that is at higher risk of fractures and breaks.
Kids and broken bones are not uncommon. It is not always because of an underlying medical issue. If you feel like there may be a health condition, causing your child’s bones to break more easily, talk to the doctor. Look at all the potential causes and work with the doctor to determine if it needs further testing.
Does a vitamin D deficiency cause Rickets?
Rickets is a condition in children that most often results from a prolonged vitamin D deficiency. Although rare, it may also be because of genetic issues. Symptoms include spinal, pelvis, or leg pain. Bowed legs, delayed growth or motor skills, breastbone projection of thick wrists and/or ankles are other indications.
The most common treatment for rickets is to add vitamin D and calcium supplements. Increasing the dietary amounts of vitamin D and sun exposure are also valuable techniques for improving the symptoms of rickets.
Will a child’s teeth suffer when vitamin D is low?
Calcium and phosphate are building blocks of teeth and their enamel. When the calcium and phosphate are not absorbed well, teeth may become fragile. Vitamin D is essential to that absorption.
Can a vitamin D deficiency prevent a child from participating in sports?
Yes, this is becoming more common. A study released by the American Academy of Pediatrics, involved two teen boys that could not take part in sports because of leg pains. One had fractures in both shins. The other boy had knee bones that were bending. Both had a vitamin D deficiency.
If your child’s leg pains persist, don’t assume it is growing pains. Talk to your doctor about testing for a vitamin D deficiency. They do not have to suffer with bone pain when a simple change in diet and supplements will help.
Will my child’s immune system suffer?
According to the University of Maryland Medical System, “Vitamin D is one of the most important immune system-strengthening nutrients that can reduce the risk of colds and flu; this should be taken on a regular basis.”
Many factors affect the immune system. Vitamin D works with the immune system cells to improve their ability to fight off invaders. In one study, vitamin d deficiency was common in patients that had an existing autoimmune disease.
In short, yes, your child’s immune system is compromised by low vitamin d levels. Keep in mind this is not the only factor at play. The immune system is made-up by many warriors poised to fight off the enemy. Keeping them all healthy and well equipped is the key to success.
Consider reading: Vitamin D 3 is Essential to Your Immune System
What can I do to increase my child’s vitamin D levels?
First step, consult your physician. Decide with them if a deficiency is possible and if testing is needed. If the test returns with a positive result, the doctor will advise a supplement and dietary changes.
High-quality liquid supplements are ideal for children. No pills to swallow or chalk tasting chewable. Before using any supplement, consult your doctor then do your research. Many manufacturers create products that are full of additives. Only the best for our children.
What foods have high levels of vitamin D?
The easiest go-to foods are milk, fortified cereals, almond milk and yogurt. In addition, a variety of animal-based foods will help balance out the levels.
Vitamin D does not come from plant-based foods like lettuce or carrots. Health.gov is a valuable resource for a comprehensive list of vitamin D rich foods.
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