Vitamin D Deficiency and Osteomalacia

Although osteomalacia is very similar to osteoporosis, they are two different medical conditions.

Vitamin D deficiency can be one of the causes of both diseases, but things are little bit more complex regarding differences between osteoporosis and osteomalacia.

Osteoporosis vs. Osteomalacia

Symptoms: Their symptoms are similar, but not identical - main symptoms of osteoporosis are bone mass reduced with normal mineralization while main symptoms of osteomalacia are bone mass variable with decreased mineralization.

Onset Age: Age at onset - osteoporosis generally affects elderly people in general and postmenopausal women while osteomalacia affects persons of any age.

Etiology: Osteoporosis: idiopathic, endocrine abnormalities, inactivity, disuse, alcoholism, calcium deficiency etc. Osteomalacia: vitamin D deficiency, abnormality of vit D pathways, hypophosphatasia syndromes, long-term anticonvulsant therapy, renal tubular acidosis.

Pain Symptoms: Osteoporosis pain symptoms - referable to a site. Osteomalacia pain symptoms - generalized bone pain.

Signs: Signs of osteoporosis: tenderness at fracture site. Signs of osteomalacia: tenderness at fracture site and generalized tenderness.

Radiographic features: Radiographic features of osteoporosis: mainly axial skeleton fracture. Radiographic features of osteomalacia: often symmetric pseudofractures or completed fracture in appendicular skeleton.

Lab tests: Lab tests for osteoporosis: serum calcium and serum phosphate (normal), alkaline phosphatase (normal even within 5 days of new fracture), urinary calcium (high or normal), bone biopsy (tetracycline labels normal). Lab tests for osteomalacia: serum calcium (low or normal - high in hypophosphatasia), serum phosphate (low or normal), alkaline phosphate (elevated unless hypophosphatasia), urinary calcium (normal or low - high in hypophosphatasia), bone biopsy (tetracycline labels abnormal).

As one can see, osteoporosis and osteomalacia are very similar even for trained personnel. Treating osteomalacia and osteoporosis is very complex process and should be done individually, according to each patient needs.

Prevention of Osteomalacia

Prevention of osteomalacia and osteoporosis is similar, although many more studies must be taken in order to accurately determine what and when must be done for prevention.

Generally, prevention of osteomalacia starts even before pregnancy itself and lasts during pregnancy and continues during entire life. Vitamin D deficiency influence osteomalacia through vitamin D and calcium interaction, so increasing their intake can be beneficial in preventing osteomalacia. There are numerous studies suggesting such conclusions, but scientists are not yet 100% sure about many 'little' things.

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