The vitamin D It is key for the correct growth of children and its lack can lead to problems for children's bone health. They are obtained mainly through the sun, but the diet can also be a source of vitamin D. What happens when you do not get enough vitamin D? What childhood diseases derive from a vitamin D deficiency?
Vitamins are molecules that the body does not synthesize and that it needs in small amounts to maintain proper body function. They are divided into two large groups: fat-soluble vitamins, those that can be dissolved in fats and oils, and water-soluble vitamins that only dissolve in water and are eliminated through the urine. Vitamin D belongs to the group of fat-soluble. It is an essential vitamin for our body, involved in some of the most important functions.
Beyond intervening in the absorption and use of calcium and phosphorus to maintain healthy bones, vitamin D is also related to hormonal function, the immune, nervous and muscular systems. Some studies also suggest a possible link to diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, cancer, or some autoimmune conditions such as multiple sclerosis.
The main source of vitamin D is the sun. We synthesize 80-90% of vitamin D by exposing our skin to sunlight. The main recommendation to maintain adequate levels of vitamin D and avoid its deficiency is to expose face, neck, arms and hands to the sun for 15-20 minutes 2-4 times a week, if possible at noon, when the sun is more tall, without sunscreen or glass or screens in between, but being sensible.
The more body surface we expose, the better. Increasing that time of exposure to the sun will not make us synthesize more vitamin D Since the body regulates the amount it produces and, on the contrary, it can cause burns, aging of the skin and / or skin cancer.
We can also obtain it through consumption of foods rich in vitamin D, but from this source we only get 10-20%. The foods with the highest amount of vitamin D are:
- The eggs (in the yolk).
- Blue fish (salmon, trout, sardines, tuna, mackerel, ...) and their oils.
- Whole dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese, ...).
- The liver and some mushrooms or fungi.
- You can also find this vitamin in fortified foods to which it has been added: milk, breakfast cereals, vegetable drinks, yogurts, ...
- Another option would be supplements, always under medical supervision. As it is a fat-soluble vitamin, excessive consumption of vitamin D in the form of supplements can be harmful since it will accumulate in the body.
Possibly it is one of the vitamins with the greatest deficit in the population due, on the one hand, to the scarce sun exposure, since in the winter months it is limited and is mainly restricted to the summer months, and in a smaller percentage, to a low contribution through food.
Vitamin D deficiency is mainly related to bone conditions: loss of bone density, osteoporosis, and fractures. In children, its deficiency can cause rickets, a disease that affects the bones by making them softer as calcium and phosphorus are not properly fixed. To maintain strong bones, it is not enough just to ensure a correct supply of calcium. Vitamin D is responsible for its fixation in the bones.
The needs of this vitamin vary from one age to another, childhood being one of the groups that will need the greatest amounts of this vitamin. Pregnant women, breastfeeding women and people over 65 are also considered a risk group.
As general advice, lChildren over 1 year of age and adolescents should follow a healthy lifestyle.e: a diet that includes fresh and healthy foods, rich in vitamin D or fortified, in addition to outdoor activities to promote skin synthesis of vitamin D.
Breast milk has a low content of vitamin D, so children exclusively breastfed with it will not receive a sufficient supply to cover their needs. A correct exposure to the sun for its synthesis or a small supplementation will be necessary to ensure the correct supply of vitamin D.
The supplements, especially in newborns, infants with breast milk and children older than 1 year, should be prescribed by a doctor, always taking into account laboratory tests, skin pigmentation and the geographical area.
Supplementation is also recommended, as noted in the report 'Facts about vitamin D', carried out by the National Institute of Health, 'in children with certain disorders, such as Crohn's disease or celiac disease, who lack adequate control of the fats, because vitamin D needs fats for its absorption and in dark-skinned people, because their skin has a lower capacity to produce vitamin D from the sun '.
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