This article was sent to me by a friend. I find it difficult to accept that this is based on a vegan issue alone.

The NHS website has articles about Rickets detailing what it is, the symptoms and the causes! It does not state that vegans are at a greater risk. In fact it offers information about how we vegans can get what we need through non dairy sources: –

…Vitamin D which is found in oily fish, eggs and dairy products, but not in plant foods. If you are a vegetarian or vegan, you can get vitamin D from vegetable margarines, some soya milks and, if necessary, by taking vitamin D supplements.

….sunlight. Sunlight promotes the production of vitamin D which, provided that you spend time outdoors, usually provides your body with an adequate supply. Most people have enough vitamin D stored in their body to last for two to three years.

….Calcium is usually obtained by including foods such as milk and dairy products in your diet. Vegetarians and vegans can obtain calcium by eating leafy green vegetables, tofu, dried fruit, seeds, nuts, and foods that are fortified with the vitamin, such as certain breads.

The article referred to in the title of this blog is below: –

Parents of ill vegan girl may face police, Mark Macaskill

A 12-YEAR-OLD girl in Scotland brought up by her parents on a strict vegan diet has been admitted to hospital with a degenerative bone condition said to have left her with the spine of an 80-year-old woman.

Doctors are under pressure to report the couple to police and social workers amid concerns that her health and welfare may have been neglected in pursuit of their dietary beliefs.

The girl, who has been fed on a strict meat and dairy-free diet from birth, is said to have a severe form of rickets and to have suffered a number of fractured bones.

The condition is caused by a lack of vitamin D, which is needed to absorb calcium and is found in liver, oily fish and dairy produce. Decalcification leads to the bones becoming brittle and can cause curvature of the spine.

Dr Faisal Ahmed, the consultant paediatrician treating the child at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Glasgow, declined to discuss the specific case. He said, however, that he believed the dangers of forcing children to follow a strict vegan diet needed to be highlighted.

One leading nutritionist, who asked not to be named, said: “In most instances, the parents who are imposing this very restrictive and potentially hazardous diet are not themselves brought up as vegans. They are imposing on their children something . . . which we do not know enough about to know it is safe.”

Jonathan Sher, head of policy at Children in Scotland, an umbrella group representing 400 organisations, said social workers should intervene where a vegan diet was putting children’s health at risk.

Last year, an American vegan couple were given a life sentence for starving their six-week-old baby to death. In 2001 two vegans from west London were sentenced to three years’ community rehabilitation after they admitted starving their baby to death.

Glasgow city council said the incident involving the 12-year-old girl had not been referred to its social work department.

More information about the issues surrounding pregnancy, children & diet.

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Mahersh Shah · August 4, 2008 at 11:07 pm

All one’s nutritional requirements can be found in a balanced plant-based (vegan) diet. As with any diet, it is important that the diet is balanced so that you receive all the nutrients you need. If you eat a good variety of fruit, veg, pulses etc. you shouldn’t really have problems achieving a balanced diet. (Note, because vitamin B12 is produced by bacteria, the current advice for people following a vegan diet is that vitamin B12 can only be reliably obtained from supplements or foods that are fortified with B12 (e.g. some plant milks, some dairy-free spreads, etc.). All other nutrients can easily be obtained from plant sources).

Thankfully, good nutritional information specifically for vegans is readily available, and one of my favourites is a beautifully designed, easy-to-read, practical wall chart. Animal Aid sells it from their online shop:

Regarding the case of the 12-year-old vegan child with rickets…
As is generally the case (vegan or not), particular care must be given to young children. I am not a nutritionist, but my understanding is that one needs to be particularly careful about vitamin D and vitamin B12 for very young children. Although support and advice is widely available as regards health and nutrition for babies and children raised on a non-vegan diet, until a vegan diet becomes a mainstream or normal part of society you are left to do your own nutritional research. But don’t despair as good-quality help is available:
For example, the Vegan Society publishes this book:
“Feeding your Vegan Infant with Confidence: A practical guide from pre-conception through to pre-school” by Sandra Hood, ISBN 0-907337-29-5
(you can buy it online from the Vegan Society’s online shop:

Finally, The Vegan Society’s response (with some good advice too) to the case of the 12-year old vegan child who had rickets can be found here:

Heena Modi · August 5, 2008 at 1:21 am

Thanks for this Mahersh.
Some clarity, points backed up with sources whilst also being empowering so people can research these issues themselves 🙂

Mahersh Shah · August 5, 2008 at 11:50 pm

Another important point about vitamin D is that the most effective source is from the action of sunlight on the skin. In northern latitude countries (like the UK), the correct type of sunlight exposure is on average much lower than in say tropical countries. In such northern countries, darker-skinned people are at greater risk of not producing enough vitamin D since their skin does not absorb as much sunlight. For reasons of culture/tradition, some Indian people (for example), particularly women, tend to minimise their exposure to the sun, and this apparently can lead to problems of vitamin D deficiency.

More information about Vitamin D issues can be obtained from the Vegan Society website at this link:

Heena Modi · August 6, 2008 at 1:01 am

Wow! So another reason for me to go away then?! LOL 🙂
I guess we just need to keep in mind issues about being safe in the sun right?
Lots to think about but it’s much easier with more brains pondering on it.

Heena 🙂

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