What is the Connection Between Vitamin D and Rickets?

Autumn Rivers

Rickets is a medical condition typically caused by a vitamin D deficiency, making the connection between vitamin D and rickets an unpopular one. Those who do not get enough sun to provide sufficient vitamin D may develop rickets unless they are careful to supplement their diet by eating foods, such as green vegetables and milk, that contain vitamin D. Certain medical conditions may not allow proper absorption of vitamin D, leading to a rickets-causing deficiency even if consumption is sufficient. The most common symptoms of rickets include pain in the bones, slow growth, and skeletal and dental problems.

The sun's rays help the human body to produce vitamin D, which prevents rickets.
The sun's rays help the human body to produce vitamin D, which prevents rickets.

The main role of vitamin D in the body is to regulate phosphate and calcium levels. When the level of vitamin D gets too low, the bones release both calcium and phosphate, resulting in bones that feel weak and soft. This can lead to bone disease, bones that fracture easily, and general skeletal and muscular pain. The teeth are often affected, too, because both the lack of vitamin D and rickets can cause impaired tooth formation and a higher number of cavities. Finally, those suffering from rickets may notice impaired growth and numerous bone deformities, making it imperative to get sufficient vitamin D before problems start.

Vitamin D supplements.
Vitamin D supplements.

Most human bodies produce vitamin D when the skin is exposed to the sun, which means those who do not leave the house during the day have a chance of developing rickets. On the other hand, while a lack of vitamin D and rickets may become apparent in those who rarely see sunlight, it is possible to get this nutrient from other sources. For example, regularly consuming green vegetables and milk can ensure that people get sufficient vitamin D. Those who avoid these types of foods will need to supplement with either pills or extra sunlight.

While a deficiency of vitamin D and rickets usually occur together, some people actually take in enough of the vitamin but still end up with rickets. This is because their body is not properly absorbing this vitamin, which can be a hereditary issue. For instance, the liver may not be able to process vitamin D correctly or the body might not absorb fats properly, both of which can result in rickets. On the other hand, some people find their kidneys do not store phosphate properly, which means they can develop rickets despite sufficient levels of vitamin D. The typical causal connection between vitamin D and rickets is untrue for these people, which means they should see a doctor rather than simply increasing their intake of this nutrient.

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