According to recent news rickets, a disease linked to the Victorian times, has returned to Britain.
So I thought I would write my first blog about it. I have been also been asked by a patient ‘What is the differences between rickets and osteoporosis’? so I will answer that as well.
WHAT IS RICKETS?
Rickets is a softening of the bones in children. Children between the ages of 3 months and 3 years old are most at risk. Rickets is caused by a Vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium which is essential for healthy bones and teeth. (Osteomalacia is the adult form of Vitamin D deficiency and although the bone density may be normal, the bones become soft).
WHY HAS IT RETURNED?
vitamin D deficiency in children is most commonly caused by not enough sun and a poor diet. The best source of vitamin D is the sun. Compounds on the skin are converted into Vitamin D when it is exposed to sunlight. The overuse of high factor sunscreen as well as more time being spent indoors, possibly on computers and gaming consoles, is being linked to rickets.
WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT IT?
Spending some time outdoors during daylight hours is important, however too much sun is bad for you and it is advisable that children use sunscreen with a SPF of at least 15. A diet that includes foods that contain Vitamin D and calcium is also beneficial.
WHY IS VITAMIN D SO IMPORTANT FOR MY BONES?
The body needs Vitamin D to absorb Calcium. Without Vitamin D you can’t get enough Calcitriol. This leads to an insufficient absorption of Calcium from the diet. The body then takes the Calcium it needs from its stores in the bones. This weakens the existing bones and prevents the formation of new, strong bones.
WHAT FOODS CONTAIN VITAMIN D AND CALCIUM?
Vitamin D is contained naturally in fatty fish (sardines, salmon, mackerel and tuna) eggs and meat, especially beef liver. Mushrooms are one of the few natural vegan food sources. (Some foods such as fat spreads and breakfast cereals are fortified with Vitamin D). Calcium can be found in dairy products, green vegetables, whole meal bread, beans and pulses such as lentils.
Vitamin D supplements can also be considered.
OSTEOPOROSIS occurs due to the result of hormonal changes or a deficiency of Calcium or Vitamin D within the body. There is a loss of bone density of the already developed bone causing bones to become weak, brittle and fragile. It can occur in postmenopausal women and elderly men.