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Vitamin D Deficiency In Childhood

Vitamin D is necessary for strong bones and teeth. Vitamin D deficiency may lead to a condition called rickets , especially in children, in which bones and teeth are weak. Although rarely seen in the United States and Europe, rickets is still a problem in many parts of the world. It is currently ranked among the top 5 childhood diseases in developing countries. [ 1 ] Some studies have shown that infants who are totally breast-fed, especially with dark-skinned mothers, and have little exposure to sunlight may be at risk of vitamin D deficiency. [ 2 ]
In adults vitamin D deficiency may cause a condition called osteomalacia , in which calcium is lost from bones so that they become weak.
Ergocalciferol is the form of vitamin D used in vitamin supplements. Some conditions may increase the body's need for vitamin D. These include:

  • Alcoholism
  • Intestine diseases
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Overactivity of the parathyroid glands with kidney failure
  • Pancreas disease
  • Surgical removal of stomach

Vitamin D is found naturally only in fish and fish-liver oils. However, it is also found in milk (which has been vitamin D-fortified ). Cooking does not affect vitamin D content in foods. Vitamin D is sometimes called the "sunshine vitamin'' since it is made in the skin when exposed to sunlight. Thus, individuals and breast-fed infants who lack exposure to sunlight, as well as dark-skinned individuals, may be more likely to have a vitamin D deficiency. A balanced diet and at least 1.5 to 2 hours a week in the sunshine should provide all the vitamin D one needs.

The information in this page is presented in summarised form and has been taken from the following source(s):
1. American Academy of Family Physicians, American Family Physician :
2. Medline Plus Medical Encyclopaedia, U.S. National Library of Medicine:

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