Osteomalacia and rickets essentially the same thing; rickets disease affects children, and osteomalacia affects adults.
Osteomalacia is a condition where the body does not deposit enough of the calcium, phosphorus, and other bone minerals into the bones. Instead of brittle bones as seen in osteoporosis, the bones of osteomalacia are softer and too flexible.
Symptoms of rickets include fractures, bone pain, and muscle weakness.
Osteomalacia is commonly caused by vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is necessary for the body to put the bone minerals where they belong. A deficiency of Vitamin D shows up as weak bones that do not have the normal rigidity and stiffness required to do their job.
If not enough vitamin D is available for the body to place the minerals that strengthen bone, the bones are too soft and can bend from normal stresses. This is especially true of the weight-bearing bones such as the legs and hips. A good example is ‘bowed-legs’ or ‘bow-legs’.
Osteomalacia and rickets from a dietary deficiency is relatively uncommon in the United States, because it can be prevented most of the time with adequate levels of Vitamin D already in our food. Dairy products have been fortified with Vitamin D for decades, and breakfast cereals, orange juice, and many other common foods have vitamin D added in order to help eliminate and prevent osteomalacia and rickets.
Another cause of bone disease including osteomalacia and rickets seems to be due to a calcium / phosphate imbalance created by phosphoric acid.
Drinking beverages with phosphoric acid (common soft drinks contain this) especially colas and other soft drinks create abnormal imbalances between calcium and phophorus in the blood. This interferes with normal bone development, and can accelerate bone loss and weakness.
This calcium / phosphorus imbalance created from soft drinks also interferes with normal hormone levels including insulin and thyroid functions, causing other health problems.
Phosphate deficiency from food does not exist. Malnutrition can be created, however, by interfering with normal digestive processes by using antacids.
Normal stomach acid is required for the body to digest and absorb calcium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, and other minerals in our food. Antacids neutralize the normal stomach acid, eliminating our normal ability to absorb calcium and other minerals.
Antacids that contain aluminum prevent the absorption of dietary phosphate, leading to dangerous chemical imbalances in the body. An unhealthy outcome is the result, including abnormal bone.
With cholesterol already available in the body, a slight alteration in the cholesterol molecule can take place for the body to make vitamin D. This alteration requires the energy of sunlight (or ultraviolet light) on the skin.
Normally, this is how we produce our own vitamin D. Simple exposure of our skin to sunlight allows our bodies to produce an enzyme that converts something already in the body from an inactive form (25-hydroxy vitamin D) to the active form that we need and use (1,25-dihydroxy vitamin D).
The problem is, during the winter we don’t get much exposure to the sun. Without sunshine on our skin, we cannot activate that enzyme process to create our own vitamin D. This is especially true in the northern climates.
This problem can occur in anyone who is confined indoors. This especially includes elderly people who are house-bound for health or other reasons. It also includes people who habitually avoid the sun, cover themselves to extremes when outdoors, or use sunscreens to block the natural sunlight.
Pancreatic insufficiency, liver diseases, and intestinal malfunctions can all interfere with normal absorption of fats. Pancreas can malfunction as a result of overloading the body with sugar and artificial sweeteners. This includes white sugar, white flour products, and soft drinks whether they are ‘diet’ or not.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, it is able to be dissolved in fat, and absorbed into the body in this way. Cod-liver oil is an example of vitamin D in a fat (oil) that we can absorb.
While some vitamin D is supplied by the diet absorbed from food by the intestines, most of it is made in the body. To make vitamin D, cholesterol is needed. Cholesterol is widely distributed in animal tissues and occurs in the yolk of eggs, as well as in various oils and fats.
Most foods are rich in phosphates that are readily absorbed by the body. Individuals with diseases affecting the kidney’s ability to retain phosphate very quickly become at risk of osteomalacia.
There is a particular site inside the kidneys where phosphates are re-absorbed instead of removed from the body; certain diseases affect this site, and phosphates are lost at an accelerated rate, leaving the body without the minerals needed to properly maintain the bones.
Hypophosphatemia is most commonly caused by alcohol abuse. Chronic alcoholism depletes liver stores of vitamin D, and alcohol is often consumed instead of food and water, leading to malnutrition and dehydration.
In addition, phosphate deficiency may occur in people with acquired or inherited defects in kidney function, and in those who take certain drugs.
These drugs interfere with phosphate absorption or with the normal process of bone mineralization.
There are also patients who develop tumors that secrete a factor that causes loss of phosphate from the body. This condition is called tumor-induced or oncogenic osteomalacia.
The best current information regarding stopping and reversing many bone disorders, including cancers, seems to be regarding the removal of animal products from the diet and replacing them with a high intake of vegetables, and adding daily high-doses (10 grams/day or more) of vitamin C. Vitamin C is required for healing and repair of every type of cell and tissue in the body, including bone.
Your standard medical doctor will not have current information regarding this, because they are required to use medically-accepted methods which are drugs, radiation, surgery, and chemotherapy. Lots of good information out there on the healing properties of fruits, vegetables, vitamin C, etc.
Vitamin D deficiency can be treated with nutritional supplements and sunshine. New treatment for people with osteomalacia and rickets includes special lamps that produce ultra-violet B light waves, or UV-B wavelength light. This is the wavelength that allows our skin to produce our own Vitamin D.
Osteomalacia and rickets, osteoporosis, joint and muscle problems, and bone pain may be also related to scurvy – Vitamin C deficiency.
Vitamin C must be present for the body to produce collagen. Collagen is the strong net-like fiber support that bone minerals attach to. Without the collagen matrix, the calcium, phosphate and other bone minerals have nowhere to attach, and the bone produced is either too brittle or too soft.
Osteomalacia and rickets may be a sign of sub-clinical scurvy, a deficiency of vitamin C. In order to build strong, healthy bone, we require more than just calcium – phosphorus, zinc, and other minerals and vitamins are needed.
In any bone disorder, including osteomalacia and rickets, bone quality cannot be normal if vitamin C and vitamin D is not available.
In order to create optimal bone health we need to remove anything that interferes with normal function. This includes things we may use every day, such as colas, antacids, or drugs. Then, we need to be as sure as we can be that we have provided everything else that must be present, such as good food, water, exercise, and sunshine.