VITAMIN D: DEFICIENCY AND PREVENTION IN CHILDREN

Vitamin D

If your child spends little or no time in sunlight, if she/he averts drinking milk in an admissible quantity, if you are strictly vegetarian then there are chances that she/he might be suffering from vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is one of the most essential nutrients that a child needs while growing, a lack of which could become a bugbear throughout the life.

Vitamin D is most commonly associated with strong bones and rightly so. What most people do not know is vitamin D does not directly form bones but rather acts as an assistant to calcium in the process i.e. it helps to absorb calcium from the diet which in turn, helps in the formation of bones. When a child is at a growing age, the bones are soft still and more or less in a tentative form. If they do not get the right amount of nutrition at this age, the child might develop serious health disorder as adults, for example, rickets is a disease in which the bone tissue doesn’t properly mineralize, leading to soft bones and skeletal deformities, other problems like a constant backache, getting fractures very easily, increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease etc.

Research suggests that apart from bone formation, Vitamin D has other grave roles as well; it helps in building a strong metabolism in children and as adults helps in the prevention and treatment of a number of different conditions, such as type1 and type 2 diabetes, hypertension and indecent blood pressure, glucose intolerance, and multiple sclerosis.

Sources of Vitamin D:

Being such an important nutrient, one cannot afford to lose on this. Here are certain simple ways which would enhance your child’s intake of vitamin D

  • Sunlight: Vitamin D is also known as the “sunshine vitamin”. A few hours in the sun could benefit your Vitamin D levels manifold. Yes! It is that simple, however, there is a catch in this, living in a country like India the sun can be very harsh on the skin, not to be unmindful of UV ray which can lead to diseases as fatal as Skin cancer. It’s difficult to judge whether you can get enough vitamin D from the sun without expanding your danger of a possible skin cancer.
  • Therefore it is recommended to spend 5 to 30 minutes outside between 10 am to 12am when the sun’s rays are a little forgiving, at least twice a week.
  • Dairy Products: Dairy products add to the calcium content in the diet, most people should try to aim for at least 2-3 serves of dairy every day. Do enforce at least one glass of milk every day if not two, a tub of yogurt or a slice of cheese.
  • Tablets and supplements: Very few foods in nature contain vitamin D. The flesh of fatty fish (such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel) and fish liver oils are among the best sources. Small amounts of vitamin D are found in cheese, beef liver and egg yolks. Some types of mushrooms also contain vitamin quantities but it hardly makes up if you have a shortage. It should also be known that the darker the tone of skin the higher the risk of lack of vitamin D because melanin which is responsible for the color of skin acts as a natural sunscreen and slows down the absorption of vitamin D. In India, most people are of a husky skin town which is why the amount of intake is relatively more. ON should refer to his/her dietitian for the need tablets which can act as an artificial supplement.

 

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