Osteomalacia - vitamin D deficiency - adults

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Osteomalacia is a condition in adults where in the bones get softened due to deficiency of vitamin D or the inability of body to absorb/utilise cholecalciferol.
The essential problem in this metabolic disease of adults is the non-availability of phosphorus and/or calcium for mineralisation of freshly formed osteoid usually in adults.
This disease in children is called rickets. The basic cause of this mineral insufficiency is the deficiency of vitamin D (cholecalciferol).

Unlike the severity of the symptoms in children this insufficiency in adults shows signs like body pains, muscle pains and soft fragile bony structures.
Osteomalacia is hypomineralization of the osteoid after the cessation of its growth.
In contrast, in rickets, hypomineralization of the growing bones takes place affecting growth plates.

Normal mineralisation depends on many interdependent factors, which supply sufficient phosphorus and calcium to the skeletal tissues.
By its action on the gastrointestinal tract, parathyroid glands, kidneys and the bones, vitamin D maintains a balance of calcium and phosphorus.
Hydroxylation of cholecalciferol is necessary for the maintenance of the above balance. Hydroxylation takes place in liver and kidneys.
Osteomalacia occurs when any of the above metabolic processes dysfunctions and soft bones result.

Though both osteomalacia and osteoporosis result in soft and fragile bones in adults the processes of the making of this condition are very different.
In osteoporosis, porosity of the skeletal tissue results due to faster breaking down of them than their reformation.
However in osteomalacia though the two activities are balanced, the bones which are formed do not get mineralised to become hard and dense.

There are a number of causes for the occurrence of osteomalacia, the most important being the deficiency of cholecalciferol in adults.
The signs of osteomalacia are general weakness, myalgia, lack of appetite, loss of weight and fragile and soft bones.
This malady of deficiency is diagnosed with blood tests, biopsy and radiography.
Osteomalacia is treated by giving large doses of vitamin D to replenish it in adults.

Related topics:
Causes of the ailment in adults.
Osteomalacia symptoms.
Prevention of vitamin deficiency in adults.
Rickets in children.

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