Is there a connection between vitamin D and rickets? Vitamin D deficiency can lead to rickets. Let us first define rickets. It usually affects children and results from low levels of vitamin D in the body. This condition is characterized by soft bones that are prone to fractures. Serious bone deformities are also possible. Rickets can affect adults, too. However, such cases are rare. It is more common in children, especially those who live in poor countries and suffer from malnutrition. In adults, the term “osteomalacia” is used to describe a similar condition.
What Are the Symptoms?
The most common symptoms of this condition include:
● Dental problems
● Skeletal deformity
● Bone pain
● Bowed legs
● Bone tenderness
● Muscle weakness
● Easy fracturing
● Pelvic deformities
● Problems with growth and development
● Spinal deformities
● Harrison’s groove
● Costochondral swelling
Rickets is caused by vitamin D deficiency. This vitamin is necessary for normal absorption of phosphorus and calcium. It is produced in the skin, when it’s exposed to ultraviolet light from the sun. When the skin is exposed to sunlight, the cells will be able to covert vitamin D to its active form. If vitamin D levels in the body are low, calcium will not be absorbed properly, which will further lead to dental deformities and skeletal problems, hypocalcaemia, neuromuscular symptoms, etc.
Vitamin D is also found in some foods, such as eggs, butter, fortified milk (and other dairy products), fish liver oil, animal meat, etc. The quantities found in these foods are not considered sufficient, but people who do not consume these foods are at higher risk of becoming deficient in vitamin D.
Rickets is treated with supplements of vitamin D, calcium and phosphates. The child will have to spend more time in the sun each day. Dark-skinned babies will have to be exposed to sunlight longer.
Vitamin D comes in two forms: vitamin D2 and vitamin D3. Cholecalciferol (D3) is easier to absorb, so this form is considered more effective, especially in treating vitamin D deficiency.
Vitamin D deficiency in children can be prevented. If your child is breast-fed, make sure to use formula milk, too. This milk contains vitamin D and other important nutrients.