Many doctors recommend vitamin D for rickets prevention. Mothers should take this advice, because rickets are caused by vitamin D deficiency. Low levels of vitamin D in a child’s body can lead to serious bone deformities.
What is rickets?
Rickets can be described as a condition characterized by bone softening and bone deformation. Improper metabolism of phosphorus, calcium, vitamin D and magnesium leads to rickets in infants. This condition can affect adults, too, and it is called “osteomalacia”. Rickets is very common in poor countries. However, this condition can affect any child. It is usually caused by severe deficiency of vitamin D and calcium deficiency. In babies, vitamin D deficiency can be caused by diarrhea and vomiting. Babies who are exclusively breast-fed are at high risk of getting deficient in this vitamin. Breast-feeding is strongly recommended, but human milk does not contain enough vitamin D, which is why doctors advise mothers to use formula, in addition to breast milk.
The symptoms of rickets include:
● Pain in bones
● Growth problems
● Dental problems
● Low calcium levels in blood
● Weak bones
● Soft skull
● Skeletal deformities
● Harrison’s groove
● Weak muscles
● Deformities of spine and pelvis
How to Prevent Rickets
● Vitamin D is naturally produced in the skin, when it is exposed to UV rays. Sunlight helps the skin cells convert this vitamin to its active form. For white-skinned people, twenty minutes in the sun is considered enough time for the skin to start producing vitamin D. For people with darker skin, the sun exposure will last a bit longer.
● This means that you need to take your baby out more often, and spend some time in the sun. However, talk to your doctor about the best time to go out! Your baby’s skin is sensitive, and it can easily get burnt if the sun is too strong. If you live in a country with cold weather, you will have to talk to your doctor about some alternatives.
● Formula milk should be included in your baby’s diet, in addition to breast milk. This way, you can be certain that your baby is getting enough vitamin D.
● Vitamin D is necessary for your baby’s growth and development. If you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above, take your baby to the doctor as soon as possible. If diagnosed early, vitamin D deficiency can be treated and rickets can be prevented.
Osteomalacia is very similar to rickets. This condition affects adults, and it is caused by vitamin D deficiency.
In adults, vitamin D deficiency can result in serious problems. The most common symptoms include:
● Bone fractures
People who have diabetes (type II), hypertension, high cholesterol, and multiple sclerosis (and have low levels of vitamin D) can have serious problems with controlling these illnesses.
Vitamin D is naturally found in foods like egg yolk, animal meat, dairy products and fish. If you are a vegetarian, you can opt for fortified breakfast cereals or energy bars.
It is wise to talk to your doctor about vitamin D supplements, even if you are feeling perfectly healthy. If you are dark-skinned, or you are vegetarian, or you don’t spend much time in the sun (for any reason), you need to find other ways to get vitamin D. Vitamin supplements are great for this purpose. However, you must never use any of these products without your doctor’s knowledge. Before taking vitamin D supplements, your vitamin D levels have to be measured. After that, your doctor will decide about the dosage.