Vitamin D controls how the body uses calcium. It also controls how much calcium and phosphate is in bone. The intestines take vitamin D from foods we eat. The body makes vitamin D when you spend enough time in the sun.
The most common cause of osteomalacia is a shortage of vitamin D. This may happen when:
- You don’t get enough vitamin D from foods or sunlight
- Body doesn’t react to the action of vitamin D
The way the body uses vitamin D isn’t normal because:
- The body can’t absorb fats
- The body can’t absorb calcium
- Of celiac disease
- Of liver or kidney disease
- Of medicines used to treat seizures
- You have a genetic condition that causes it—rare
The goal of care is to treat the cause. This may help with other health problems.
Treating the Cause
Care may involve:
Taking in more vitamin D by adding:
- Dairy products that have vitamin D added
- Foods high in vitamin D such as fatty fish, egg yolk, and green vegetables
- Pills that have vitamin D, calcium, and other minerals
- Biologically active vitamin D
- Getting enough, but not too much, sunlight
- Taking in more calcium or phosphorus if needed
Treating Health Problems
Care to take care of problems caused by osteomalacia:
- Medicine for pain
- Wearing braces to reduce or prevent bone deformities
- Surgery to fix bone deformities—used in serious cases
To help lower your chances of osteomalacia:
- Drink milk that has added vitamin D.
- Take in enough vitamin D, calcium, and other minerals. If you think your diet may be lacking, talk with your doctor about your options.
- Get enough sunlight, but not too much. 15 minutes a day is generally enough. Longer times in the sun need protection such as clothing or sunscreens. This is especially true if you have fair skin. People with dark skin may need more sunlight or supplements.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
Edits to original content made by Denver Health.
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Eat Right—Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics https://www.eatright.org
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases https://www.niams.nih.gov
Dietitians of Canada https://www.dietitians.ca
Health Canada https://www.canada.ca
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