Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency in Children

Children need to have enough Vitamin D to form and maintain healthy bones and muscles throughout childhood. It is difficult to receive enough Vitamin D from the diet alone and many children rely on the body’s own production of this important nutrient, which is dependent on the action of the sun on the skin. Australia is well known for its sunshine and pleasant climate which makes it difficult to believe that Vitamin D deficiency is now more common in Australia than was once thought.1

What are the risk factors?

Increased sun safety practices and less time spent outdoors are some of the factors that may make Vitamin D deficiency more likely in a child. Children with naturally darker skin may also be at a higher risk as darker skin tends to produce less Vitamin D than lighter skin tones. Also children born to mothers who are Vitamin D deficient and who are exclusively breastfed may be more predisposed to a deficiency in this important nutrient. Children who are growing rapidly and do not have adequate calcium intakes may also require additional Vitamin D, particularly in winter.1

Possible symptoms

Symptoms of deficiency in children may not always be obvious. The important role that Vitamin D plays in bone and muscle health means that it is essential that requirements are met for optimal health and development. Inadequate Vitamin D can also cause a higher predisposition towards broken bones as well as general muscle weakness and cramps. Dental problems are another area where Vitamin D deficiency may become apparent. Vitamin D may help to maintain the normal growth and development of teeth in children. Soft tooth enamel and teeth failing to form adequately may be signs of a Vitamin D deficiency in children.

What next?

A simple blood test performed by your healthcare practitioner can confirm if your child is deficient in Vitamin D. It may be worth considering if your child has any risk factors. Your healthcare practitioner will be able to recommend if Vitamin D supplementation such as Ostelin Vitamin D & Calcium Kids Chewable is required. There is also a kids liquid supplement of Vitamin D available for easier administration if required. A liquid supplement is sometimes helpful for fussy eaters as it can be added to a favourite drink or straight in the mouth if required. A dosage of 400IU may be recommended for the treatment of Vitamin D deficiency in children.

If you are at risk of Vitamin D deficiency and you are pregnant or intending to become pregnant it may be worth considering pregnancy/prenatal supplementation of Vitamin D, such as Ostelin Pregnancy Essentials. Maintaining adequate Vitamin D levels during pregnancy may have long term benefits for the child’s general health and wellbeing. Vitamin D is necessary for the development of the baby’s skeleton as it affects the amount of calcium absorbed into the baby’s bones. If the mother is Vitamin D deficient it can affect the amount of calcium that the baby absorbs into their bones.

References
  1. Braun L., Cohen M; Herbs & Natural Supplements: An evidence based guide, 3rd Edition; Elsevier; Australia; 2010