DR P. MARAZZI / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DR P. MARAZZI / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Bowed legs of a middle-aged man with rickets or osteomalacia, a nutritional deficiency of vitamin D which results in malformation of the skeleton. The term rickets is applied to childhood disease. Vitamin D is necessary for the uptake of calcium from food; without the vitamin not enough calcium salts are deposited in the bones to make them rigid. Vitamin D is synthesised in the skin when it is exposed to ultraviolet light. The deficiency can therefore be caused by lack of sunlight as well as insufficient dietary intake. In adult osteomalacia, a progressive softening and decalcification of bone takes place.
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