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Fast Facts About Osteomalacia

Osteomalacia is the softening of bones. Osteomalacia diet helps to prevent rickets in children. Adequate amount of calcium and phosphorus helps the bones to become strong and vitamin D is inevitable

The softening of bones in adults is referred to as osteomalacia. This condition in children is known as rickets. Osteomalacia results due to abnormal bone formation, rather than weakening of previously formed bone (osteoporosis).

Rickets was common in North America until the 1940’s, when Vitamin D was discovered to have a preventive role for this condition.
However, it is a major childhood problem in developing countries where the child is kept indoors and Vitamin D food products are not readily available.

Bones require calcium and phosphorus to become strong and healthy; Vitamin D is required for the absorption of these two minerals.

Sunlight prompts the development of Vitamin D in the skin. Thus inadequate exposure to sunlight may cause osteomalacia.

Lack of Vitamin D in the diet, certain intestinal disorders such as Crohns disease, some medications, and kidney or liver disorders which prevent the body from activating/producing Vitamin D may all lead to the development of osteomalacia.

The prime symptom of osteomalacia is bone pain which occurs mainly in the hip area, and bone tenderness may also be present.

Babies having rickets are slow in crawling and sitting, and may develop bowed legs, spine deformities and an abnormally shaped skull.

Dietary Management For Osteomalacia And Rickets

  • Get your daily dose of sunlight. Spending 5 to 10 minutes in the sun is sufficient for proper Vitamin D synthesis in the body. Vitamin D can be stored, so people living in cold climates can build up stores during summer. Application of sunscreen prohibits absorption of sunlight; if you need to spend more than 2 hours in the sun, apply sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 15 and reapply every 2 hours.
  • Increase consumption of Vitamin D rich foods. Salmon, mackerel, sardines, fish liver oil, egg yolks, infant formula, fortified milk, cereals, bread and yoghurt are all good examples.
  • Make sure that you are having enough calcium in the diet. Breast milk and formula, milk and dairy, eggs, green leafy vegetables, sesame seeds and tofu are rich in calcium.
  • Supplements for certain bone building minerals can be taken if some underlying condition is causing less absorption of the nutrients and causing osteomalacia. Any supplements however, should only be taken after consulting your doctor.
  • Weight bearing exercises such as walking and dancing can help strengthen bones, however, if you have slight fractures, avoid any strenuous physical activity until the bones are back to normal.

Submitted on January 16, 2014