The idea that milk does the body good isn’t just a marketing premise, but rather an important fact. Milk contains Vitamin D which helps the body absorb the calcium it needs to have healthy bones. Vitamin D is also essential for building up the immune system. It is important for children to get enough in their diet, and those that have low levels are at risk for bone fractures at a young age. Adults that had Vitamin D deficiency as a child are more likely to have arterial issues after the age of 30.
Milk is not the only way to get enough Vitamin D in your diet, which is great for those that are lactose intolerant. Sunlight, of course, is an easy, and free way to obtain the vitamin, but is more difficult for those living in colder areas or those with darker skin to obtain through sunlight, than those living in warmer or tropical areas. Fatty fish, such as tuna, salmon, or trout are high in Vitamin D. If fish is not an option, incorporate orange juice, mushrooms, and egg yolks into your diet. Grains, and some meats are also high in Vitamin D.
While adults need to maintain a healthy diet rich in Vitamin D, it is even more important for children to have enough. Because their bones are still growing, they are risk for growth plate and pediatric bone fractures. The growth plates are found along the longer bones of the body, like those in the thigh or arm. Fractures of this type can cause serious problems if left untreated, such as a crooked limb, or one limb longer than its opposing limb.
Growth plate fractures are categorized into one of five types by using the Salter-Harris Classification. Type I fractures across the plate and occurs in young children, while Type 2 starts in the growth plate, but continues through the bone. A Type 3 fracture starts in the growth plate, but goes through the end of the bone and into the nearest joint; Type 4 is similar to Type 3, but the fracture extends through the nearest joint’s cartilage. Type 5, the worst case scenario, is a crushed growth plate. While getting enough Vitamin D is not a guarantee against pediatric bone fractures, it is still a crucial element for bone health.
Low levels of Vitamin D as a child can cause complications into adulthood. A study has found a correlation between Vitamin D deficiency in youth and arterial hardening in adults. The study, conducted in Finland, began in 1980 on almost 2,200 children aged 3 to 18. Their vitamin D levels were checked along with lipid levels, blood pressure, diet, and activity. They were then tested up to the age of 45. The study showed that those with low levels of Vitamin D as a child had a much higher risk of arterial hardening as an adult. More research and studies will need to be conducted to find the cause.
If you have questions about your health or have pain, contact our specialists at Orthopedic Surgery San Diego for an evaluation.