What is Vitamin D deficiency? Spotting early signs of Vitamin D deficiency - Tayyari Jeet Ki by Bournvita
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Nutritional Health|04 October 2023

What is Vitamin D deficiency? Spotting early signs of Vitamin D deficiency

Written by Divya Gandhi
Founder/Owner/Dietitian at Diet and Cure Clinic with 10 Years of experience. Double Diploma from VLCC & IGNOU, BBA from IP University

Introduction

Vitamin D is predominantly generated in the skin when exposed to sunlight. It is an essential nutrient that the human body requires. However, so many kids around us are deficient of Vitamin D for a number of reasons, leading to so many health issues. Vitamin D deficiency in India is even more challenging due to cultural practices and limited dietary sources for our children. 

Basic facts about Vitamin D deficiency and when are you deficient?

Vitamin D deficiency is a condition where the body lacks the “sunshine vitamin”, often due to inadequate sun exposure and diet in the early stages of childhood. The deficiency may result in bone pain and muscle weakness and these are some of the symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency. A blood test measuring 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels is the best way to check if your kid is deficient. Levels below 20 ng/mL are deficient, while 20-30 ng/mL is insufficient.

Vitamin D deficiency causes

Inadequate sunlight exposure, especially in low-sunlight areas and during winters, diet lacking in Vitamin D-rich foods, and darker skin reducing sunlight synthesis may lead to Vitamin D deficiency among kids. These are some of the causes of Vitamin D deficiency.

Are there medical conditions that can cause it?

Yes, weight loss surgeries reduce nutrient absorption, including Vitamin D. Kidney and liver diseases can hinder Vitamin D conversion, while obesity traps Vitamin D in fat tissue. Besides, chronic diseases such as multiple sclerosis, asthma, and diabetes raise the deficiency risk among kids and adults alike. Genetic factors also influence Vitamin D processing, sometimes leading to a deficiency of Vitamin D in children.

Does it lead to any other disease or complication?

  1. Osteoporosis, especially in the elderly, increases fracture risk.
  2. Muscle weakness, discomfort, and a higher risk of falls among kids.
  3. An elevated risk of autoimmune diseases in children.

14 Signs of Vitamin D deficiency or among kids

  1. Fatigue.
  2. Pain, especially in the lower limb long bone
  3. Mood disorders 
  4. Bone weakness with increased risk of fractures.
  5. Muscle weakness especially in core muscles.
  6. Poor dental health
  7. Cognitive decline
  8. Growth retardation
  9. Delay in walking
  10. Irritability

Vitamin D deficiency skin manifestations among kids

  1. Dryness: Inadequate vitamin D can lead to dry, itchy skin.
  2. Psoriasis: Low vitamin D may worsen psoriasis symptoms.
  3. Eczema: Deficiency can exacerbate eczema.
  4. Acne: Some studies link vitamin D deficiency to acne severity.
  5. Slow Wound Healing: Delayed wound healing and skin infections may occur.

Does weight loss surgery lead to Vitamin D deficiency?

Weight loss surgeries like gastric bypass or sleeve gastrectomy can lead to a deficiency of Vitamin D due to reduced nutrient absorption and restricted diets post-surgery. These procedures alter the digestive system, affecting fat absorption crucial for Vitamin D uptake. Hence, individuals who have undergone weight-loss surgery are at a higher risk of deficiency, often requiring supplementation and regular blood testing to maintain adequate Vitamin D levels.

How can it be diagnosed, tested, and assessed?

A Vitamin D test can be conducted with a blood test that measures 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels. This test will diagnose if your kid has symptoms of deficiency of Vitamin D. A level below 20 ng/mL is deficient, while 20-30 ng/mL is insufficient. 

Vitamin D deficiency treatment

Following the Vitamin D deficiency assessment, what comes to your mind? “How is Vitamin D deficiency treated?” The treatment involves dietary adjustments, Vitamin D supplements (often vitamin D3), moderate sun exposure, and, in severe cases, prescription medications. Addressing underlying medical conditions contributing to the deficiency is essential to deal with the deficiency during early childhood. Regular monitoring through follow-up blood tests ensures treatment effectiveness and allows for adjustments as needed to restore normal Vitamin D levels among kids.

Conclusion

From fatigue and pain in the lower limb to mood disorders and rickets, the lack of Vitamin D in kids manifests itself in so many ways. Hence, awareness is instrumental in understanding the symptoms of low Vitamin D and initiating the treatment, especially for kids who are more vulnerable than adults. Blood tests determine treatment options such as diet, supplements, and sun exposure.

If your child has undergone weight loss surgery, a routine checkup keeps you updated with their health.

Disclaimer: This information is not to be considered as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

The views expressed are that of the expert alone.

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