General characteristics

General characteristics

Rickets is a condition thought to involve low vitamin D levels in the body. Rickets results in a softening and weakening of the bones. Once a disease of the past, rickets is now making a comeback and is becoming increasingly common, especially amongst children. In adults, the condition is called osteomalacia.

Vitamin D enters the body through the action of sunlight on the skin and from the diet and helps to control the circulating levels of calcium and phosphates by promoting their absorption in the intestines and encouraging them to be stored in the bones. Besides a lack of dietary intake or sunlight exposure, Vitamin D levels are reduced when calcium and phosphate levels are also low or their metabolism or absorption in the intestines is faulty in some way. The fat soluble vitamin D (actually a type of hormone) needs to be first converted to its usable form by interactions with both the liver and kidneys. When blood levels of these nutrients are low, the body's complicated feedback system instructs the bones to release calcium and phosphates from the bones into the blood to maintain proper levels. Low vitamin D can result from a lack of regular exposure to sunlight, a regularly high consumption of wheat and other refined carbohydrates, poor diet generally or digestive intolerance to certain substances (such as lactose or gluten). Low calcium and phosphate levels can occur as a result of poor dietary choices, kidney disease or liver disorders.

Low vitamin D levels are also associated with a worsening of asthma in children, a decline in cognitive (thinking) abilities in older adults and a greater risk of developing type 1 and 2 diabetes.

The symptoms and consequences of rickets include a weakening and brittleness of the bones and structural components which can result in bowing and deformity in bones such as the long bones in the leg ('bow' legs), wrists, ribcage, arms, spine, skull and pelvis with accompanying bone tenderness and pain. Other problems include teeth slow to come through, increased cavities and thinning of tooth enamel, reduced body growth, muscle cramps, a greater likelihood of bone fractures and breaks and a greater likelihood of developing pneumonia.

Fortunately, if spotted and treated early, rickets can be stopped and even reversed through the use of proper foods, nutritional and herbal remedies and more exposure to sunlight where possible. It is worth noting that rickets in children is still very common in parts of the world (such as Africa) where sunlight and exposure to it is plentiful. This implies that vitamin D alone is not the culprit and that calcium and phosphorous levels must also be normal in order to prevent or cure rickets. Phosphorous levels are particularly important according to this 2007 investigation.

Diet and lifestyle

Diet and lifestyle

Dietary sources of vitamin D include oily fish such as wild caught salmon, trout, tuna, mackerel, herrings, sardines and the like, flat fish like sole or flounder, wheat germ, raw unpasteurised milk and its products (butter, cheese, yoghurt), egg yolk and mushrooms (that have been exposed to sunlight).

Avoid sugar, sugary foods, fizzy drinks and refined carbohydrate as theses all strip calcium from the body.

The highest dietary sources of phosphorous are found in nuts, seeds and beans such as sesame, pumpkin, flax, caraway and sunflower seeds, brazil and pine nuts and soya beans.

Good plant sources of calcium include tahini and sesame seeds, carrots, dark green leaves like watercress and spinach,

Useful herbs

Useful herbs

A herbal tea mix that contains herbs extremely rich in calcium and other minerals and vitamins could include nettle, raspberry leaf, oatstraw with the option of adding a pinch of horsetail or/and alfalfa. Use equal parts of each (nettle, raspberry leaf and oatstraw) and take 3 strong cups each day, using a heaped teaspoon or tablespoon of the mix per each cup. The plant calcium and other nutrients are very easily absorbed by the body and are quickly delivered to where they are most needed.

Boneset tea should be taken daily, alone or added to the above mix for its rapid results in all situations involving a lack of minerals and the depleted health of the bones and connective tissues.

Natural healing

Natural healing

Cod liver oil capsules and other fish oils provide high levels or vitamin D.

If access to sunlight is restricted you could consider an artificial UV light to help boost vitamin D production.

If you are considering vitamin D supplementation, make sure you take vitamin D3, the most effective and useful form of the vitamin and not D2.

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