Vitamin Deficiency Symptoms in Children

Vitamins are essential nutrients that the body needs in small amounts to sustain life. These very important organic compounds are absorbed by the body by our everyday food; however some foods are known to have more vitamins and minerals than others. Vitamins can be divided into two categories, fat soluble and the other - water soluble vitamins. The difference lies in the fact that fat soluble vitamins can be stored in the body and these are vitamins A, D, E and K. On the flip side, water soluble vitamins, need to dissolve in water before the body can absorb it, because of which your body doesn’t store these vitamins. These are vitamins C and B complex. The body passes out any vitamin C or B that it doesn’t use; hence replenishment of these vitamins is required.

Vitamins are the building blocks and support system of the body, which a healthy and well rounded diet can easily provide. Sometimes however due to children’s finicky eating habits or our busy lifestyles, vitamin intake is compromised. Vitamin deficiency in children can lead to potential ailments and health conditions. Some symptoms of vitamin deficiency in children are:

  • Vitamin A: Signs of vitamin A deficiency (not commonly seen in western countries) are night blindness and eyesight related issues.
  • Vitamin D: Signs of severe vitamin D deficiency are muscle spasms, seizures, respiratory problems, soft skull or bones, rickets, poor growth (height), teeth formation, weakness of the heart muscles.
  • Vitamin E: Signs of severe vitamin E deficiency are chronic cholestatic hepatobiliary (liver disease), muscle weakness, Ptosis (drooping eyelid), dysarthia (motor speech disorder), ophthalmoplegia, loss of position and vibration senses, truncal and limb ataxia, or spinocerebellar ataxia (gross lack of muscle movement coordination)
  • Vitamin C: Signs of severe vitamin C deficiency are bleeding gums, easy bruising, reduced wound healing rate, decreased ability to ward off infections, anemia, dry and splitting hair, gingivitis, rough and scaly skin, nosebleeds, weakened tooth enamels or painful and swollen joints.
  • Vitamin B: Signs of severe vitamin B deficiency are infant development delays, movement disorders, anemia, and or nerve damage.
Children should receive their daily intake of vitamins trough a well balanced and healthy diet which should include milk and other dairy products like yoghurt and cheese, fresh fruits and vegetables (especially the leafy kinds), proteins such as chicken, fish, eggs and meat, and whole-grains that include brown rice and oatmeal. Some children need vitamin supplements as due to the busy lifestyles of parents, home cooked meals might not be possible everyday or because kids can be picky eaters, who just don’t eat enough. Children with medical conditions related to the digestive system as well as those with asthma, active children who play physically demanding sports and kids who drink a lot of fizzy drinks, might also require vitamin supplements. Consult a pediatrician before giving your child any vitamin supplements.

The intake of vitamins is very beneficial to the body; in fact each vitamin contributes to many health advantages. Let us look at what benefits each vitamin possesses, and its sources:

Vitamin A: Promotes tissue and bone repair, development and normal growth, immune responses, and healthy eyes and skin. Some good sources of vitamin A include eggs, cheese, milk, sweet potatoes, carrots and squash

Vitamin B: Are vitamins B2, B3, B6 and B12, which help in production of energy, metabolism, healthy nervous and circulatory systems. Some good sources of vitamin Bs are meat, fish, chicken, milk, eggs, nuts, beans, cheese and soya beans.

Vitamin C:
Encourages healthy connective tissue, muscles and skin. Some sources of vitamin C are strawberries, citrus fruits, tomatoes, kiwi and green vegetables like broccoli.

Vitamin D:
Aids in bone and formation of teeth, as also helps the body absorb calcium. Some healthy sources are yoghurt, milk, cheese, tofu and calcium fortified orange drinks.