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The importance for growth of dietary intake of calcium and vitamin D

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the role of dietary calcium and vitamin D in the process of growth and development of children and adolescents, focusing in particular on the prevention and treatment of delayed growth caused by nutritional deficiency. SOURCES: Information was gathered from articles published in the last 2 decades, from searches on the databases SciELO, PubMed and Medline, technical books and publications of international organizations. SUMMARY OF THE FINDINGS: Growth is influenced by intrinsic (genetic and metabolic) and extrinsic factors (environmental factors such as diet, health, hygiene, housing and access to health services). Among the nutritional factors are vitamin and oligoelement deficiencies which may be associated with malnutrition or caused by insufficient absorption. Since calcium is one of the main mineral components of bone tissue, it is essential for adequate bone formation and, considering that vitamin D plays an important role in calcium metabolism, a diet with insufficient quantities of these nutrients can impact on the formation of the skeleton and on the process of growth and development. CONCLUSIONS: In children and adolescents, low intake or low absorption of calcium and vitamin D may limit their statural growth, and it is necessary to supply sufficient quantities of both during the critical growth phases.

Growth disorders; rickets; nutrition; diet; nutritional recommendations

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