Vitamin D Deficiency in Children - Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Vitamin D Deficiency in Children

Medically Reviewed By
Megha Mukhija (Paediatric Nutritionist)
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Vitamins and minerals are essential for a child’s healthy growth and development. But getting kids to eat a healthy diet, that comprises of all the nutrients their growing bodies need, is easier said than done. If you’ve got a picky eater at hand who refuses to eat a nutritious diet, then they may suffer from vitamin and other nutrient deficiencies. Vitamin D deficiency is common in children and can cause rickets and other problems. The condition is normally coupled with calcium deficiency in the blood and can lead to deformity, severe heart problems and other painful conditions.

Video: Vitamin D Deficiency in Children – Signs and Treatments

Learning about this deficiency in children can help in preventing and treating it in time.

Why is Vitamin D important for Children?

Vitamin D is vital for a child’s development. It helps in their bone growth and helps in the absorption of calcium. Vitamin D is available in nature in the form of early morning sunlight.

It’s an important vitamin, as the deficiency of Vitamin D can lead to –

  • Rickets, also known as soft bones disease, leading to fractures and skeletal deformities
  • Unhealthy immune system, infections
  • Juvenile arthritis

Causes of Low Vitamin D in a Child

Causes of Vitamin D deficiency in kids are explained below:

  • Vitamin D deficiency can be caused by a poor diet.
  • Lack of sunlight as the covered skin cannot synthesize Vitamin D
  • Wearing dark-coloured clothes

Signs and Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency in Kids

Signs and Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency in Kids

Common signs and symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency in kids are as follows:

  • Muscle cramps, seizures and breathing difficulties
  • Delayed teething
  • Irritable and fussy children
  • Being prone to various respiratory infections
  • Difficult breathing due to rib cage softening
  • Poor growth and low weight
  • A weakening of heart muscles
  • Typical symptoms of rickets like a soft skull, bones of the legs looking curved, severe and repeated bouts of pain in the legs and muscles and general weakness

Infographics: Signs of Vitamin D Deficiency in Children

Signs of Vitamin D Deficiency in Children

Vitamin D Rich Foods

Food is the main source of minerals, vitamins, proteins, and other essential nutrients for a growing child. Hence a balanced diet with proper vitamins and minerals is very important to keep any health-risk away. If you’re searching for some Vitamin-D rich foods to include in your diet, here are your options:

  • Oily fish like mackerel, cod, etc.
  • Egg yolk
  • Fortified soya milk
  • Infant formula milk
  • Fortified cereals and millets
  • Dairy products like milk, butter, curd, yoghurt, etc.
  • Fruit juices especially fortified orange juice 
  • Cod liver oil

Vitamin D Dosage for Children

Vitamin D deficiency in children can either be mild or severe. Treatment and the dosage would depend on the condition. In either case, a paediatrician should be consulted. For children above 1 year of age, the recommended dosage of Vitamin D is 400 IU. But before you consider this for your child, you must check with your child’s doctor.

How is Vitamin D Deficiency Treated in Kids?

Treatment for Vitamin D deficiency in kids should be done as per the degree of severity of the deficiency and on the advice of a paediatrician. But here’s how you can get started to help your child tackle Vitamin D deficiency.

  • Ensure that your child gets enough sunlight daily.
  • Your child must eat a healthy and balanced diet.
  • Stoss therapy or high dose Vitamin D therapy can help when the deficiency is severe. But checking with a doctor is a must before trying this therapy.
  • The treatment can be oral or intramuscular.
  • Injections of Vitamin D may be administered to fussy children who do not take oral medicines. The effects generally last for about 6 months.
  • It may be recommended to take calcium and phosphorous supplements along with Vitamin D to help build stronger bones.

How Can You Prevent Vitamin D Deficiency in Children?

Prevention is always better than cure. Learning how to prevent Vitamin D deficiency can help. Here’s how you can ensure that your child doesn’t suffer from Vitamin D deficiency and enjoys a healthy and happy childhood sans supplements and medicines.

  • Allow your child to play outdoors in sunlight daily.
  • Vitamin D deficiency, especially in breastfed infants can be prevented by the mother having a balanced Vitamin D dosage during pregnancy and lactation.
  • If the deficiency is present the paediatrician will advice Vitamin D supplements for kids from the first day of life itself.
  • Ensure you prepare food rich in multivitamins as the child grows.
  • You can provide Vitamin D supplements to growing children on a daily basis.
  • When in doubt, speak to your paediatrician and get your child tested for any Vitamin D deficiency.

Vitamin D is essential for bone health and the overall development of your child. It is important that you consult your doctor if you notice any signs of Vitamin D deficiency in your child and help treat it timely.

Also Read: Calcium-Rich Foods for Kids

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