Vitamins are important micronutrients for the proper functioning of the human body. Vitamin D is a rare vitamin that is accessible from an environmental source – sunlight. Vitamin D is formed in the skin when good UV rays (UVB) from sunlight fall on our skin and are then absorbed into the blood. Read on to know the signs of vitamin D deficiency in babies.
What Is Vitamin D Deficiency
A lower level of vitamin D in the body is referred to as vitamin D deficiency, as the name goes. What is Vitamin D insufficiency, then? Well, that is measured by vitamin D blood levels measured as serum 25-hydroxy-vitamin D (calcidiol). Deficiency is a degree below 25 nmol / L and insufficiency is between 25-50 nmol / L. When the level is higher than 50 nmol / L, bones, muscles, immune systems, and insulin secretion are shown to be beneficial.
Type of Vitamin D That Are Essential For Babies
Vitamin D supplements are found both as vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). While both D2 and D3 are historically considered equally powerful, studies showed that D3 is at least 3 times stronger than D2. Supplements containing D3 are thus the preferred form of supplementation. In fact, in most countries now, this is the only form of vitamin D commercially available.
Why Vitamin D Important for Babies?
For optimum gain, nutrition is very complex and needs a perfect balance. The body may compensate for a slight deficiency and sometimes even an excess deficiency, but only to some degree, particularly in a growing child. It is vitamin D that enables your child to play with good strength and energy without difficulty. Bones need calcium and phosphorus for resilience, wear & tear, and weight-bearing. It’s Vitamin D that makes sure the bones aren’t deprived of anything.
Vitamin D also absorbs calcium from food, processes it in the blood, and deposits it in the bones in the intestinal lining. Calcium is essential to the functioning of any cell in the body. It opens the doors of the cells, receives energy from molecules, and ultimately provides power to the muscles to activate each muscle fiber contract. This helps us to understand the importance of Vitamin D for babies and how their deficiency affects them.
Causes of Vitamin D Deficiency In Babies
Limited or no exposure to sunlight is the most significant cause of vitamin D deficiency. But it is still prevalent even under the big sunlight, such as in India. Why is it like that? You need to understand how Vitamin D is made, extracted, stored, and used by the body in order to understand other causes.
When UV-B is exposed to the sun, the epidermis (upper skin layer) transforms cholesterol called provitamin D3 into the blood-entric vitamin D3 that is brought to the liver. Vitamin D is also consumed and sent to the liver by food/supplements from the stomach. The liver turns it into a still inactive, more powerful form of calcidiol. It is then transferred to the kidney, where the active ready-to-act form is converted to calcitriol.
Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency in Babies
The signs and symptoms are:
1. Developmental delay
Your child does not live according to height, weight, and other developmental milestones despite no established health issues and healthy food intake.
It’s a hypocalcemia condition, which is low in blood calcium. Calcium deficiency affects many, such as poor diet, poor absorption, deficiency with Vitamin D, irregular secretion of the parathyroid hormone, abnormal functioning of the renal cell, etc. The baby will have spells of apnea (sudden breathlessness episodes), wheezing, muscle fatigue, and seizures.
Vitamin D deficiency is one of the causes of a child’s seizures and requires urgent medical treatment.
The child is no longer playful and attentive and, without any known reason, is abnormally cranky and annoyed much of the time.
Treatment For Vitamin D Deficiency In Babies
After the synthesis has decreased or stopped, Vitamin D stores in the body take a long time to deplete. So, of course, replenishment will take a long time, too. The goal of the treatment is to restore and sustain levels of vitamin D above 50 nmol / L.
1. Ensure a proper intake of calcium.
Calcium sources are useful for children who do not like cow’s milk, yogurt, cheese, and solid milk. In the case of low consumption, consider medicinal supplements.
2. Exposure To Sun
Children and young people with dark skin may tolerate intermittent exposure to sunlight and do not need sunscreen. Hats and sunglasses may be used to encourage outdoor activity.
- Low-dose dietary supplements
- Intermittent high dose treatment
Prevention Of Vitamin D Deficiency
In general, sufficient exposure to sunlight and food that is high in vitamin D will help to increase prevention strategy rather than merely supplements, along with supplementation if appropriate. About 5-15 minutes of hand exposure to sunlight is beneficial and normal for children with light skins and about 30-45 minutes for children with dark skin. The sun is preferably best in the early morning, as the amount of damaging UV rays is lower.
1. Maternal Vitamin D
Vitamin D status of the mother is the most significant aspect which determines the level of Vitamin D in babies. In the first quarter of their pregnancy, pregnant women can check their levels of vitamin D. It is better to be handled with 3000-5000 IU until it is more than > 20 ng / dL followed by 400 IU / daily if found to be poor.
High dose Vitamin D (400-6400 IU) daily to mothers who breastfeed the infant, without having to induce the mother of the child toxicity of Vitamin D.
Ensure the child diet has adequate vitamin D. Supplements with at least one other risk factor without symptoms/signs should typically be started without the research for exclusively breastfed children. The majority of baby formulas are IU / L 400. The infants feeding on a formula will therefore also need supplements if at least 1 L of the formula is not given every day.
3. Toddlers and adolescents
Children who are at risk, such as children with dark skin, children who are shielded by the sun, have decreased or not receive sunlight exposure, or those who have a medical condition underlying them, should receive 400 IU per day to avoid vitamin D deficiency.
There is growing evidence of vitamin D deficiency in adults and pediatric populations, even in a tropical country like India. With adequate pediatric consultation, the safest approach to fix the problem is to incorporate vitamin D into the child’s diet with due caution, so as to prevent any ramifications later.
Also Read: Daily Need of Vitamins & Minerals For Kids