Vitamin D Rickets Is Back with a Vengeance

By on May 25, 2009
Vitamin D Rickets is back with a vengeance

Kids get so little Vitamin D these days, that Vitamin D Rickets- a disease that was thought to be virtually eradicated over 50 years ago in developed countries- is back again. Rickets,  with it’s characteristic bowed legs from improper bone hardening, is caused by a simple nutritional deficiency. Yet children right here in the US are getting this easily preventable disease in numbers never thought possible.

Vitamin D, which is naturally present in few Vitamin D Foods except for Fatty Fish like Sardines and Salmon is made naturally when the skin is exposed to sunlight. But Rickets became prevalent during the Industrial Revolution in England when the already weak British sun’s rays were blocked entirely by the incredible pollution in the air. Scientists were able to make a synthetic form of Vitamin D and quickly began fortifying milk products, solving the rickets problem for good- or so they thought.

But now, Vitamin D Rickets is back…

Dr. Laura Tosi, bone health chief at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington says, “I am now treating rickets in a way that I never treated it 20 years ago,” Possibly even more alarming is a new epidemic where bone formation in children appears normal, but is actually much softer than it should be. As such, girls today break their arms 56% more often than their peers did 40 years ago- and boys break them 32% more often!

 

A  long term Bone Health Study of US Children is now being done in response to this phenomenon- and researchers are concerned that widespread osteoporosis may be waiting for this younger generation in adulthood.

 

Why Vitamin D Rickets is Making a Comeback?

There is no one answer to that question. But the recommendation of most dermatologists to keep children out of the sun for fear of skin cancer is one reason. The widespread use of sunscreen that effectively blocks the UV rays that allow the skin to make Vitamin D is another. Children’s increased time indoors watching television, playing video games and computer usage is another reason. Not only does being indoors keep children out of the Vitamin D making rays of the sun, but it also keeps them from doing the essential weight-bearing exercises like running and jumping that encourage young bones to grow denser and stronger.

“Physical activity increases growth in width and mineral content of bones in girls and adolescent females, particularly when it is initiated before puberty,” concluded one study. Other studies estimate that children and teens, due to poor dietary choices, get 20% less calcium than is recommended.

So the problem is compounded by the perfect storm of:

  • Not enough Vitamin D
  • Not enough Magnesium
  • Not enough Fat Soluble Vitamins and
  • Not enough Exercise

Very Long-Term Effects of Vitamin D Rickets and Low Vitamin D

While these studies are focusing on the possible osteoporosis that these children may be getting later in life, other researchers are concerned about other, less well known effects that low Vitamin D levels may have on these children later in life. Dr. Cedric Garland, who  has been researching Vitamin D for over 20 years, states, “We estimate that we could prevent 75%of cancers by getting everyone’s Vitamin D Blood Level into the 40 -60 (ng/ml) level.”

There has also been much research into Vitamin D for diabetes and heart disease prevention. An analysis of several studies even claims that sufficient Vitamin D levels can reduce “All cause mortality”, a claim that is somewhat like the “holy grail” as drug research is endlessly in the quest of a patentable drug that can make this claim. While Dr. Garland and other researchers like Dr. Robert Heaney and Dr. John Cannell have been urging higher Vitamin D levels for years, governments and medical associations have all but ignored this information.

With the Official Recommended Daily Intake  of Vitamin D unchanged in over 50 years despite the mounds of evidence of the benefits of higher Vitamin D intake -our youngest generation may be the ones who are going to be suffering with Vitamin D Rickets and other health problems from our governments turning a deaf ear to the cries of researchers worldwide.

What you can do…

  • Get enough sun and/or Take enough Supplemental Vitamin D to keep your level within the recommended 40-60 ng/ml range outlined by Dr. Cedric Garland and an entire team of Vitamin D researchers. These recommendations are the same for children as they are for adults.
  • Get my Vitamin D Fact Sheet for free, it’s at the top right of every page on this site.

About Kerri Knox, RN

The author is a Registered Nurse and Functional Medicine Practitioner. With 20 years of experience in health care, she has the unique perspective of being solidly grounded in both Conventional Medicine and Alternative Medicine. She can help you to to find and repair the underlying causes of chronic illness, while empowering you to take charge of your own health. She is the owner and author of this blog and website.
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