Health

Vitamin D3 Deficiency: Breaking the Myth

Puja Sharma Vasisht
1 to 3 years

Created by Puja Sharma Vasisht
Updated on Jun 08, 2015

Vitamin D3 Deficiency Breaking the Myth

Fact: Vitamin D is crucial for our children and our skin absorbs it from the sun
Myth: If my child gets enough outdoor play, she gets her dose of Vitamin D
Yes, you read it right! Playing in the sun is no longer sufficient for your child to get her required dose of Vitamin D. And in our blog, we tell you why. 
Why do we need this vitamin?
These days it’s a known fact that vitamin D3 is required, along with calcium,for healthy bones and teeth. A deficiency causes a decrease in the absorption of dietary calcium and phosphorus which leads to a generalized decrease in bone mineral density (BMD), resulting in osteopenia and osteoporosis. The deficiency also leads to weakened immune system and weakened muscles and bones.In a young child, who has little mineral in his skeleton, a deficiency of Vitamin D can lead to skeletal deformities classically known as rickets; affected children have difficulty in standing and walking. The elderly are equally prone to risks such as increasing sway and more frequent falls, thereby exposing them to fractures.
Emerging research also suggests vitamin D’s role in prevention against cancer, heart disease, fractures and falls, Type- 2 Diabetes, influenza and depression as well. 
Vitamin D3 deficiency in India
Vitamin D often known asthe “Sunshine Vitamin” hasn’t remained that shiny in our lives. A deficiency of vitamin D is becoming very common not only in children but in adults also. The air pollution prevalent in Metros and high-pollution cities is restricting the penetration of Ultraviolet B rays from the sun in our atmosphere. This reduces our skin’s exposure to these rays as well as the skin’s ability to synthesis Vitamin D3. Therefore the recommended exposure of minimum 20 minutes (infact as long as 3hours in sun) is proving to be an ineffective in conversion of this vitamin in its active form in our body.A study by paediatricians from All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, found the deficiency in 66.7 per cent of healthy, breastfed infants and 81.1 per cent of mothers. (The study was published in Indian Journal of Medical Research in 2011.)

Other Reasons for a deficiency of Vitamin D3
Besides the rising air pollution, there are other reasons too which makes us susceptible to a deficiency.
- Changing lifestyles: With our preference for remaining indoors for longer duration, covering while going out in sun, using sun blocks, we inadvertently restrict our skin from absorbing this essential nutrient. Also, culturally, we are not very open to the idea of spending long durations in the sun.
- Skin tone:The darker the skin, higher the melanin in skin which again makes us further vulnerable to vitamin d3 deficiency as light coloured skin quickly converts sunlight to the vitamin.
- Dietary habits: With our preference for being vegetarian, our chances of absorbing Vitamin D from food sources, further goes down. The good sources of vitamin D3 are generally non vegetarian foods like cod liver oil, fish, egg yolk etc. 

How much do we need?
For Infants (birth – 1 year)- 200 IU
For Children (1-18 years)- 200IU
For adult Indians- 200-400 IU
For elderly – 400-800 IU 

Signs and symptoms of Vitamin D3 deficiency

A deficiency of Vitamin D3 is not very easy to spot as the symptoms are very subtle and can be mistaken for other ailments. But common symptoms are fatigue, generalised body ache, muscle ache, back ache, pain in calf muscles, etc. In case, you have any unexplained symptoms from above, it is advisable to check with your doctor.
A simple diagnostic test of Vitamin D3 levels from a reliable place can be done if symptoms mentioned above can be seen. In infants the early 2 years are critical for bone mineralization and skeleton development. Hence any symptoms of delayed hardening of the cranium ( the bone of head) needs to be investigated under medical supervision. 

Food sources of Vitamin D3

Spending time outdoors, is definitely in for a healthy you and a healthy child, but there are some food sources also, which you can try and include in your diet.

Fatty fish: especially herring, catfish, salmon, carp, trout, and halibut

Eggs and egg yolk

Butter, Butter oil

Mushrooms: certain varieties like morel, Chanterelle, Shiitake dried

Fortified foods like milk, soymilk & soy products, cereals

Cod liver oil (per 100 gms) - 10,000 IU (high intake of vitamin D can cause toxicity  

Supplements of vitamin D

In case of a very high deficiency, sometimes, a doctor may start your child on a supplement, generally a syrup. Also, if deficiency is severe, booster doses can be given but this has to be taken strictly under medical supervision as excess consumption of vitamin D is known to cause adverse health effects, which include elevated levels of calcium in blood and urine, which affects the kidney and retards growth in infants.

So, ideally, spend time outdoors and eat healthy—the perfect recipe for a healthy child. Do share your thoughts on this.

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| Apr 09, 2017

thanks very good information

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| Oct 01, 2016

my 2and half year old son was suffering from constipation and doctor without doing any test told me that he is suffering from rickets. is constipation the symptom of rickets

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| Oct 01, 2016

thanks ...very informative.

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| Sep 29, 2016

very informative for my 2 year old daughter and value it so far adult is concerned.

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| Sep 29, 2016

good info

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| Sep 28, 2016

is constipation also d symptom of rickets

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| Sep 28, 2016

Thanks .....

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| Sep 28, 2016

Thnks

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| Sep 28, 2016

Its vry useful info thanx...

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| Sep 28, 2016

what are the recommended tests for adults and kids to know whether they are deficient in vitamin D.

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| Sep 28, 2016

what are the recommended tests for adults and kids to know whether they are deficient in vitamin D.

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| Sep 28, 2016

that was lovely recommendation. thanx

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| Sep 28, 2016

informative article. regards; www. e-pharmatimes. blogspot. com

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| Sep 20, 2016

hi akriti! u cud know this only through a test if ur child is vitD defficient.

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| Sep 20, 2016

plz tell me that how come I know that my baby is required any vitamin d3 suppliments... from his birth I never give him vitamin d3 syrup..

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| Sep 20, 2016

thanks for this information..

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| Jun 15, 2016

a must needed blog ... thanks for the information

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| Jun 15, 2016

Thanks for the good information. ..

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| Jun 15, 2016

Thanks for the good information. ..

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| Jun 15, 2016

thanks for sharing such an imp info....

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| Jun 15, 2016

thanks for sharing such an imp info....

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| Feb 22, 2016

Thank u for this blog, it give much informations about Vitamin D3. It helps me lot.

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| Feb 19, 2016

Its very important to know about vitamin D3. Thank u for giving such an important knowledge

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| Jan 09, 2016

Thanks for sharing such an important info.

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| Nov 17, 2015

@Nag C, soy products not for children below 5 years only, older and adults can all have it. For children below 5 years you can use other mentioned sources.

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| Nov 06, 2015

Hi... I have read online that soy products are not recommended for children. But in your article you have mentioned soy products as sources of vitamin D. So, not sure which recommendation to be considered now. It would be good if you can provide the source of info for credibility reason.

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| Nov 06, 2015

Hi, noon time is considered safest for exposure to sunlight.

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| Oct 26, 2015

Pls let me wats the best time for exposing to sunlight ?? Many say early mrn , some say afternoon .. I am confused

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| Oct 02, 2015

Thankq fr this useful information

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| Oct 02, 2015

Thanks for the information..

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| Oct 02, 2015

When is the good time for exposure to sun?

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| Sep 08, 2015

Suprabha Nair:Hi, Noon time is considered safest for exposure to sun.

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| Sep 08, 2015

Rohini Kapoor: Hi, vegetarians can include little butter/ghee,mushrooms, fortified food sources in their diet. If eggtarians then egg yolk is also a source. If any deficiency is established, then under medical supervision supplements and or cod liver oil capsule.

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| Sep 08, 2015

Chethana, Hi, Studies have shown Indians are getting deficient in this Vitamin D3, particularly in high pollution cities. Please check with your doctor for need of supplementation.

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| Sep 08, 2015

Akanksha mittal, Hi, vegetarians can include little butter/ghee,mushrooms, fortified food sources in their diet. If eggtarians then egg yolk is also a source. If any deficiency is established, then under medical supervision supplements and or cod liver oil capsule.

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| Sep 08, 2015

Amrita Jha Alkara, Hi, The child in this age group has high demand of vitamin D3, because of bone mineralization. Check with your Pediatrician for continuation of supplements.

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| Sep 08, 2015

Joe Kidd, Hi studies have been conducted on widespread vitamin D deficiency among Indians. These have been done by Medicity, Gurgaon and AIIMS, among others. You can check on their websites for more details.

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| Sep 08, 2015

Namita Prabhu, Hi, In case your son had it till last year, and you are living in a city with high pollution levels, then the chances of D3 deficiency still persists. please take opinion of your doctor regarding test and to whether continue the supplements.

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| Sep 08, 2015

Pearline Ignatius, hi time around noon is safer and better for Vitamin D conversion. This is true for cities where pollution level is not high.

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| Aug 21, 2015

Tnks for d important information

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| Aug 20, 2015

Thankyou for sharing this information..

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| Aug 20, 2015

Puja Vasisht , Megha Chawla , Ankita A Talwar - for your views

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| Aug 20, 2015

Pearline Ignatius - morning is better than evening.

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| Aug 20, 2015

When we should make them play in the sun???Morning or evening???

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| Aug 19, 2015

Nice article

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| Aug 19, 2015

Hi Puja Sharma Vasisht. Are you a scientist, or do you have scientific sources for these theories shared above? Specifying your sources will help readers validate the information.

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| Aug 08, 2015

Very useful info.. bt wud like to knw sm vegetarian stuff...

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| Aug 08, 2015

Very informative... Thank you ????

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| Jul 19, 2015

Useful information thank

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| Jul 18, 2015

Thank u for providing very useful information..

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| Jul 17, 2015

Can we check vitamin D regular if we get D vitamin deficiency my child who is age of 5now suffer last year so ask question. Best information thanks

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| Jul 16, 2015

Very useful info thank you

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| Jul 16, 2015

Thanks for the info

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| Jul 16, 2015

Thanks for infi

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| Jul 08, 2015

Thanks puja for sharing this informative article. My child is now 11 months . I am giving him ultra D3 drops. From the first month. How long i have to countinue this or i have to give some other supplements for vit D now

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| Jul 06, 2015

Very informative.. thx!!.. but wd like to know the kind of food vegetarians shd tke in a day to day routine that are rich in this source!

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| Jul 03, 2015

Great article... As new parents you really what is the reality about Vitamin D3 and what will help ensure your kid is not deficient. Thank you!

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| Jul 03, 2015

Thank you For the sugestion

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| Jul 02, 2015

Very Helpful.. Thanks

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| Jul 02, 2015

Very informational and nice blog

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| Jun 30, 2015

Very informative. My daughter is 2 year old. We include milk, curds, egg and ghee in her diet and regular sunlight exposure. Is it still mandatory to take vitamin D supplement.

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| Jun 28, 2015

Nice blog

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| Jun 27, 2015

Thanks very helpful

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| Jun 23, 2015

Very nice and helpful blog

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| Jun 18, 2015

simran sharma Ruchi Singh - as mentioned in the blog vegetarians can include little butter/ghee,mushrooms, fortified food sources in their diet. If eggtarians then egg yolk is also a source. If any deficiency is established, then under medical supervision supplements and or cod liver oil capsule.

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| Jun 18, 2015

So wat exactly one should do ?

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| Jun 16, 2015

Very informative and valuable information

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| Jun 15, 2015

Very informative & helpful blog ...

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| Jun 15, 2015

Helpful info.... pls let me know what time of the day is ideal to take my 7 month old baby girl out for a walk so that she gets sufficient amount of Vitamin D from sun.

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| Jun 10, 2015

Very helpful blog. Pls tell as for the vegetarian people also. What we should include in our child's diet.

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| Jun 10, 2015

Very helpful blog. :D Can you tell what should vegetarian include in their child's diet to make sure there isn't any vitamin D deficiency

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| Jun 09, 2015

Thanks for the info

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| Jun 09, 2015

Very informative blog . Covers full queries regarding vitaminD

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| Jun 09, 2015

Very nice and informative!

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| Jun 09, 2015

Very nice and informative!

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| Jun 08, 2015

Very nice and Informative blog. It covers the needs,sources and deficiency of vitamin D3.

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| Jun 08, 2015

very gud info especially the myth and the fact of effects under the sun

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