the sunshine cure

Dr George Crooks
Dr George Crooks

I have recently been reading about the importance of getting enough Vitamin D. How can I make sure that my child doesn’t suffer from a deficiency?

If your child doesn’t get enough sunlight because he/she spends a lot of time indoors, or wears clothes that completely covers their skin, they may be at a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency.

Rickets is a rare disease that affects bone development in children and is due to a lack of Vitamin D.

It causes the softening and weakening of bones, which can lead to deformities, such as bowed legs and curvature of the spine. It’s very rare although there has been a reported increase in cases of in the UK in recent years.

The most common cause of rickets is a lack of vitamin D or calcium in the diet. These minerals are essential for a child to form strong healthy bones. For most children, additional vitamin and mineral supplements can usually treat rickets successfully. Oily fish, eggs and fortified breakfast cereals all contain Vitamin D.

Rickets is more common in children from Asian, African Caribbean and Middle Eastern origin because their skin is darker and needs more sunlight to get enough vitamin D. However, any child that does not go outside very often, is frequently covered up or has a diet low in vitamin D or calcium, can also be at risk.

You do not need vitamin D in your diet every day. This is because any of the vitamin your body does not need immediately is stored for future use.

Most people should be able to get all the vitamin D they need by eating a healthy balanced diet and by getting some sun.

The following groups are at greater risk of Vitamin D deficiency and should contact their GP for advice on the need and provision of supplements:

- children aged six months to five years old

- pregnant and breastfeeding women;

- people aged 65 and over

- people who are not exposed to much sun, such as people who cover up their skin for cultural reasons or those who are housebound or confined indoors for long periods

- people with darker skins such as people of African-Caribbean and South Asian origin