Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that facilitates the absorption of calcium and helps maintain calcium and phosphate levels in the blood. These minerals are necessary for the mineralization of bones. It also aids in bone growth and immune function. Inadequate amounts of vitamin D can lead to a condition called rickets, which is rare in the United states; however, it tends to affect kids more often than adults, especially African-American kids and breast-fed babies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports its prevalence at five cases per million children. Signs and symptoms of vitamin D deficiency generally present in the bones.
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Recommended Dietary Allowances
The recommended dietary allowance, or RDA, is a value that represents the suggested average daily level of intake of a nutrient, adequate enough to meet the nutrient requirements of most healthy people. According to the Office of Dietary Supplements, the RDA for vitamin D in children up to 1-year-old is 400 IU and 600 IU for children up to 18. Sources of vitamin D include certain foods such as tuna, mackerel, milk and dietary supplements. It's also produced in the body after skin is exposed to sunlight.
Low Blood Levels of Calcidiol
One sign of vitamin D deficiency in kids is low blood levels of a chemical called calcidiol, also known as 25-hydroxyvitamin d. Vitamin D is converted to calcidiol in the liver. According to the Office of Dietary Supplements, it is the best indicator of your vitamin D status. A blood test which measures calcidiol is used to determine the level of vitamin D deficiency. Normal levels of vitamin D are greater than or equal to 20 ng/mL. According to the Office of Dietary Supplements, levels less than or equal to 12ng/mL is associated with vitamin D deficiency in kids.
Skeletal deformities, such as bow legs, thick wrists and ankles are symptoms and signs of vitamin D deficiency in children. Curvature of their spines, a pigeon chest, skull malformations and pelvic deformities are also signs of rickets in children. The bones of these children tend to be very soft and brittle, resulting in fractures. Pain, tenderness and muscle weakness may accompany the bone deformities.
Failure to Thrive
Vitamin D deficiency may also manifest as a failure of the child to thrive. Their growth is often slowed or delayed. They end up short in stature compared to other kids their age.
Kids with vitamin D deficiency may also present with dental problems. Some may have holes in the enamel of their teeth, more cavities, as well as structural defects. They may also experience delayed tooth formation.