Osteomalacia is a general term for conditions where the bones become softened through demineralization or deficiencies of phosphorus or calcium or vitamin D.

One of the most well known conditions is that of rickets where the severe softening of the bones in children lead to fractures and deformity caused by deficiency in vitamin D.osteomalacia1

Some causes of adult osteomalacia:

  • Insufficient sunlight exposure, especially in dark-skinned subjects (decreasing the body’s ability to synthesize vitamin D)
  • Insufficient nutritional quantities or faulty metabolism of vitamin D or phosphorus (another mineral needed for efficient bone maintenance)
  • Renal tubular acidosis (resulting in levels of needed minerals for bone maintanence are not maintained within the body) 
  • Malnutrition during pregnancy (resulting in minerals needed by the developing fetus are leeched from the mother’s skeleton)
  • Malabsorption syndrome (where absorption of minerals essential for bone maintenance are compromised atthe intestine )
  • Tumor induced osteomalacia (where abnormal cancerous cells in the bones no longer function, or where their ability to perform needed bone maintanence is compromised) 
  • Therapy with Fumaderm (a drug with side affects on bone metabolism)
  • Celiac disease (a condition of the intestine affecting nutrient absorption)


  • Nutritional osteomalacia responds well to administration of vitamin D for 4 to 6 weeks.
  • Osteomalacia due to malabsorption may require parenteral (IV) treatment

Dirckx, John H. 1997. Stedman’s concise medical dictionary for the health professions. 3rd ed. Baltimore, USA.


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