Nutrient Deficiency Diseases
Rickets is a bone disease deficiency caused by a lack of vitamin D, called the "sunshine" vitamin because it is the only vitamin that can be produced by the effects of sunlight on the skin. It was a common disease of infants and children, but since all milk and infant formulas have vitamin D added to them, it is rarely seen today. In rickets, legs will become bowed by the weight of the body and the wrists and ankles are thickened. The teeth are badly affected and take a longer time to come in. All the bones are affected by not having sufficient calcium and phosphorous for their growth and development. Lack of exposure to sunlight, which helps to produce vitamin D, is a major cause for childhood rickets. Crowded slum conditions in areas where there was little or no sunlight were responsible for its appearance in the earlier stages of the industrial revolution.
An adult version of rickets caused by a deficiency of vitamin D, calcium, and phosphorous is called osteomalacia. The bones become soft and deformed and there is rheumatic pain. The disease is observed in the Middle East and Asia more so than in western countries. The way to prevent rickets and other bone diseases such as osteoporosis is a combination of calcium, phosphorous, and vitamin D.
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