Vitamin D deficiency is serious for adults and even more serious for the elderly. However, the most adversely affected group of individuals, when it comes to vitamin D deficiency is children. Vitamin D deficiency can cause a very serious condition in children known as rickets.
Rickets is a disease where the growth of bones is negatively affected. It can cause brittle bones, skeletal deformities and an increased number of fractures. This typically manifests around six months of age, where children can begin to present with signs of rickets – bone deformities. Not only is this painful for children, but it can lead to osteoporosis later in life.
In addition, children can develop bowed legs and knock-knees. It is also possible for children with a vitamin D deficiency to develop internal rotation of the ankles, anterior bowing of the femur, wrists may swell and they may develop a soft deformable skull. There have also been case studies where children with vitamin D deficiencies were at an increased risk for developing respiratory symptoms and other types of infections. It is possible that this manifests from a condition known as rachitic lung, which means compromised respiratory functioning due to a pliable rib cage and muscle weakness.
Recent studies have shown a link between vitamin D deficiency with cancer, heart disease, inadequate immune system functioning and possibly premature death, often a result of cardiomyopathy and heart failure. This is not to say that vitamin D deficiency causes these conditions, but that it may be an underlying factor of these conditions.
The healthier an individual is as a child, the healthier they will be later in life and vice versa. For instance, having low levels of \itamin D in childhood can lead to increased low levels in adulthood, putting your child at risk for developing other diseases. Further, experts in pediatrics believe that the diseases we develop as adults have been manifesting since childhood and are a direct result of diet, exercise, lifestyle and exposure to certain environmental factors.
It has also been discovered that without adequate amounts of vitamin D, a child’s body will only absorb about 15% of the dietary calcium, which in rare cases, can lead to seizures and abnormal heart rhythms. Further, the child will have poor muscle tone, less than adequate dental health, particularly in the enamel and can experience muscle spasms.
In addition, a child with severe vitamin D deficiency may develop tetany or hypocalcemic seizures. This is particularly true for individuals in the neonatal period and those who have entered adolescence, where they should be rapidly growing – the growth spurt.
Fortunately, there is a cure to vitamin D deficiency and parents can take certain precautions to ensure their children do not have a vitamin D deficiency. First, it is recommended that parents have their kids tested for vitamin D deficiency. Next, talk with the pediatrician to determine what level your child should be at and how you can ensure they are receiving adequate amounts of vitamin D through diet, sunlight exposure, and if necessary, vitamin D supplements.