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NUTRITION WEEK – CALCIUM AND VITAMIN D DEFICIENCY IN CHILDREN

How is Calcium and vitamin D related

  • Calcium and vitamin D work together to protect your bones—calcium helps build and maintain bones, while vitamin D helps your body effectively absorb calcium. So even if you’re taking in enough calcium, it could be going to waste if you’re deficient in vitamin D.
  • Vitamin D is essential in helping the body absorb and use calcium; in fact, the body cannot absorb calcium at all without some vitamin D. Vitamin D comes from two sources. It is made in the skin through direct exposure to sunlight, and it comes from the diet.
  • Vitamin D helps the intestines absorb calcium. However, vitamin D must first be activated or “turned on” by parathyroid hormone (PTH). Once activated, vitamin D acts to greatly increase the amount of calcium that the intestines can absorb from food, sometimes by as much as two to four times.
  • Lack of calcium in our diet forces the body to take calcium from bones to keep blood levels normal, which weakens bones

Vitamin D

  • Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium. Calcium is one of the main building blocks of bone. Vitamin D also has a role in your nervous, muscle, and immune systems.
  • In children and adults, symptoms of vitamin D deficiency include bone pain or tenderness, dental deformities, impaired growth, increased bone fractures, muscle cramps, short stature, and skeletal deformities such as rickets. “Rickets is a medical condition tied to low vitamin D levels.
  • Severe vitamin D deficiency in children can cause a disease called rickets – a disorder that softens and weakens the bones and can occasionally lead to skeletal deformities.
  •  Vitamin D in three ways: through your skin, from your diet, and from supplements. Body forms vitamin D naturally after exposure to sunlight.

What causes vitamin D deficiency?

  • You can become deficient in vitamin D for different reasons:

ü  When you don’t get enough vitamin D in your diet

ü  When vitamin D is not absorb enough from food (a malabsorption problem)

ü  When you don’t get enough exposure to sunlight.

  • Who is at risk of vitamin D deficiency?

ü  Breastfed infants, because human milk is a poor source of vitamin D.

ü  Older adults, because your skin doesn’t make vitamin D when exposed to sunlight as efficiently as when you were young, and your kidneys are less able to convert vitamin D to its active form.

ü  People with dark skin, which has less ability to produce vitamin D from the sun.

ü  People with disorders such as Crohn’s disease or celiac disease who don’t handle fat properly, because vitamin D needs fat to be absorbed.

ü  People who have obesity, because their body fat binds to some vitamin D and prevents it from getting into the blood.

ü  People who have had gastric bypass surgery

ü  People with osteoporosis

ü  People with chronic kidney or liver disease.

ü  People with hyperparathyroidism (too much of a hormone that controls the body’s calcium level) 

  • How can I get more vitamin D?

There are a few foods that naturally have some vitamin D:

ü  Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel

ü  Cheese

ü  Mushrooms

ü  Egg yolks

ü  You can also get vitamin D from fortified foods. Foods that often have added vitamin D include

ü  Milk

ü  Breakfast cereals

 

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