Vitamin D deficiency causes rickets. In other words, vitamin D deficiency leads to calcification failure in normal bone structure. This deficiency is mostly prevalent among infants and children. In case of adults, vitamin D deficiency results in osteomalacia. The prognosis is satisfactory with treatment. However, in case of rickets, the bone deformities usually continue, however, in case of osteomalacia, the deformities typically fade away.
Inadequate dietary supply results in vitamin D deficiency. Apart from that, malabsorption of vitamin D is also the cause of vitamin D deficiency. Too little exposure can also lead to vitamin D deficiency. There was a time when rickets were prevalent in United States, however, now it is quite rare. It occurs among those infants who do not receive vitamin D supplement or formula food along with breast milk.
Signs and Symptoms
At the onset of the problem, the most common signs and symptoms are abundant sweating, irritability and restlessness. Chronic vitamin D deficiency leads to bone structure malformation and bone softening including bowlegs, rachitic rosary, knock-knees, wrists enlargement, pigeon breast, ankles enlargement, skull softening, infantile tetany, poorly developed muscles, and forehead bulging.
Treatment mainly focuses on oral administration of vitamin D, except in the case of malabsorption. The oral administration not only includes synthetic supplements, but also natural sources like processed milk, liver and fish. Exposure to sunlight is also highly recommended. In case of rickets, bracing or positioning is used in an attempt to correct or prevent the deformities. Some skeletal deformities may also need surgical intervention.
Health practitioners must collect a medical history from the patient in order to evaluate the amount of current intake of the vitamin D supplement and inspire the patient to consume foods rich in vitamin D. These foods include egg yolks, fortified milk, herring, fish liver oils, and liver. In addition, patients are encouraged to have enough sun exposure.
Excessive consumption of vitamin D leads to vitamin D toxicity. So it is the duty of the health care practitioners to make the patient and family members aware of the facts of the vitamin D in details. If the patient is having a vitamin D supplement for a prolonged period of time, he or she must understand the signs and symptoms associated with vitamin D toxicity.