How can I tell if my children are vitamin D deficient?
Getting enough vitamin D is essential for the formation and maintenance of healthy bones and muscles throughout childhood and adolescence. Vitamin D deficiency in infants and children can lead to a condition where their rapidly growing skeleton fails to develop properly1 and may also affect other areas of their health in later life. When a child isn’t obtaining the vitamin D their body needs, it isn’t always outwardly obvious, especially in the early stages.
However, there are signs and symptoms you can watch out for if you’re concerned that your child isn’t getting enough of this important nutrient. These include:1
- Aching bones.
- Muscle weakness, cramps and spasms.
- Poor growth and development.
- Dental problems such as teeth failing to form or soft tooth enamel.
- Any deformities of the skeleton such as bowed legs or curvature of the spine.
- Susceptibility to broken bones, often without pressure or trauma.
- Prominent forehead and large front fontanelle (the soft spot on the top of the head) in infants.
Even if your child is not displaying any obvious symptoms, it’s important to be aware of whether or not they’re at risk of becoming vitamin D deficient.
Children most likely to have a vitamin D deficiency include:
- Those with reduced sun exposure due to increased sun safety practices.2
- Naturally dark‐skinned children as darker skin tones tend to absorb less sunlight than fairer skin.2
- Those who wear concealing clothing that covers up most of their body.2
- Kids who are unable to spend time outdoors due to being sick, disabled or for other reasons.1
- Infants who are born to vitamin D deficient mothers1Infants who are exclusively breast‐fed, particularly if they have darker skin and/or receive little to no sun exposure.3
If you have any concerns about whether your child is getting enough vitamin D or is at risk of becoming vitamin D deficient, consult your family doctor or healthcare provider. They may recommend a simple blood test to check your child’s vitamin D levels and advise if vitamin D supplementation is necessary.
- Better Health Channel, Rickets, August 2012, URL access:http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Rickets?open
- RCPCH, Guide for vitamin D in childhood, October 2013, URL access:http://www.rcpch.ac.uk/system/files/protected/page/vitdguidancedraftspreads%20FINAL%20for%20website.pdf
- Higdon J, Vitamin D, March 2008, URL access:http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/vitamins/vitaminD/index.html#deficiency