Vitamins are a group of chemicals that are needed by the body for good health.

April 12, 2011 at 8:26 am Leave a comment

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. The fact that it dissolves in fat is important, because it means the body can store it for future use. Unlike other vitamins, we do not need to get vitamin D from the food that we eat. This is a good thing because most foods contain very little vitamin D naturally.

Our main source of vitamin D is that made by our own bodies. 90% of our vitamin D is made in the skin with the help of sunlight.

Vitamin D is really important for strong bones. In addition, vitamin D seems to be important for muscles and general health. Scientists have also found that vitamin D may help prevent other diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

Vitamin D deficiency has more profound repercussions in children.

-Babies with severe vitamin D deficiency can get muscle spasms (cramps), seizures and breathing difficulties. These problems are related to consequent low levels of calcium in the infant.

-Children with severe deficiency may have soft skull or leg bones. Their legs may look curved (bow-legged). This condition is known as rickets. (Seeseparate leaflet called ‘Rickets’ for more information).

-Poor growth. Height is usually affected more than weight. Affected children might be reluctant to start walking.

-Tooth delay. Children with vitamin D deficiency may be late teething as the development of the milk teeth has been affected.

-Irritability in children can be due to vitamin D deficiency.

-Children with vitamin D deficiency are more prone to infections and respiratory (breathing) symptoms can occur In severe cases, breathing is affected because of weak chest muscles and a soft ribcage.

-Rarely an extremely low vitamin D level can cause weakness of the heart muscle (cardiomyopathy). This can affect the ability of the heart to pump blood efficiently.

Is Vitamin D deficiency curable?
The outlook for vitamin D deficiency is usually excellent. Both the vitamin levels and the symptoms generally respond well to treatment. However, it can take time (months) for bones to recover and symptoms such as pain to get better or improve.

Mild or short-lived deficiency usually causes few or no symptoms. Any symptoms that do occur improve and generally disappear with treatment.

Treatment of vitamin D deficiency in children

Treatment of Vitamin D usually depends on the child’s age. Under six months, 3000 IU calciferol per day is used for 8-12 weeks. In children over six months, 6000 IU is used daily, for the same length of time. In children over one year, 300 000 IU tends to be given as a single one-off dose.

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