Vitamin D deficiency

Vitamin D deficiency in ASD: Sunshine Vitamin for your bright child

Vitamin D deficiency in ASD: Sunshine Vitamin for your bright child

Does your child get enough sunlight during the day? How often does your child go out to play? Does your child eat meat and dairy? Is your child vegan or vegetarian? Are you giving vitamin D supplements during the winter? Are vitamin D-rich sources sufficient to treat the deficiency?

In this article, you will get answers to the above questions and learn how to detect vitamin D deficiency. Towards the end, you can keep some nutritional advice in mind.

Children with ASD are very prone to Vitamin D deficiency due to increased demand by the body. It is not sufficient in the blood based on the portions children eat and the exposure to sunlight these days. If your family is a vegetarian, there may be an increased chance of vitamin D deficiency. The best way to help increase Vitamin D levels in your child’s body is by increasing the time your child is exposed to sunlight.

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient which can be obtained in abundance by sunbathing or exposure to sunlight. You can also take your child to play between 10 am to 12 pm with minimal clothing for 15-30 minutes depending on the weather. It is an essential vitamin for maintaining bone health, a healthy immune system and the development of the brain. It can also help reduce inflammation and free radicals as it is an antioxidant.

Here are some signs of vitamin D deficiency in children with ASD:

  • Your child may fall ill frequently due to poor immune function.

  • You may notice your child is not growing tall or growing very slowly.

  • You may notice a delay in your child’s milestones, development and skills than children of the same age.

  • Your child may have increased gluten intolerance/allergy, IBS and other similar gut health issues.

  •  Some clinical signs you may notice if your child lacks vitamin D:

    • Your child’s legs might grow lightly bent or bow legs.

    • You may notice your child finding it difficult to climb or jump around due to muscle weakness.

    • Your child may suffer from bone or joint pain, affecting their behaviour. (They might be cranky or irritable)

    • Less calcium absorption can leave the bones soft, affecting the structure, shape and strength of the bones. This incorrect growth pattern can cause deformities if vitamin D deficiency is not corrected soon.

    • Your child may notice pain in their joints. They can also be at risk of fractures.

  • Vitamin D deficiency can also be a major cause of ASD-like symptoms in some children. (Ex: irritability, inappropriate speech, hyperactivity and social withdrawal)

  • In extreme cases, there may be episodes of seizure.

  • In newborn babies, head sweating is one of the early signs of vitamin D deficiency.

Why is it so difficult to increase Vitamin D levels?

1. Most countries have harsh winters. Getting exposed to the sun daily becomes difficult.

2. They end up staying indoors. Since the child finds it difficult to stay calm in crowded environments.

3. Melatonin (a pigment) is required to protect our skin from sunlight or UV rays. these rays are required to activate vitamin D.

4. Your child may not get sufficient time under sunlight for many reasons.

5. Wearing a full-sleeved shirt and full pants decreases the area of skin exposed to sunlight.

6. Use of sunscreens can prevent UV rays from being absorbed by the skin.

7. Vegetarian sources in your diet contain vitamin D2, an inactive form which gets activated when the skin is exposed to sunlight. This means that even if your child has enough vitamin D in the blood, it is in an inactive form.

The solution to increasing vitamin D levels in the blood

1. Understanding your child’s requirements per day and the chance of vitamin D deficiency.

2. Increase your child’s time to sun exposure and minimal clothing increases skin exposure to sunlight.

3. It is advised to supplement your child with vitamin D syrup/tablet during winter. Hence, speak to your pediatric dietitian about your child’s requirements and doses.

4. Adding oil or ghee can increase the absorption of vitamin D since it is a fat-soluble vitamin.

To conclude:

Sunlight is the main source of vitamin D. Make sure you follow all the tips mentioned in this article to help increase enough absorption of sunlight. Sending your child to play out can be a huge game changer. It is also important to increase vitamin D-rich foods in the diet. You can start your child on supplementation only if there is a deficiency or during winter.

If your child has any gut-related issues, allergies, intolerance, behavioural issues like hyperactivity, attention deficit issues, difficulty in maintaining eye contact, speech delay or any other ASD-related symptoms. You can contact the admin to book an appointment for a diet consultation.

Suhana Shriyan
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