Rickets in sunny places

14 Nov

© 2011 Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about seeing kids here with Rickets, and wondered why they’d have this condition that’s classically linked to low vitamin D, which is a vitamin produced by exposure to sunlight.

Well I wrote my Nutrition final this morning, and we covered it a little more.  So-called African Rickets is common in developing countries, despite the sunniness.  Bone health is a complicated thing that’s not just Vitamin D.  It could be a lack of calcium in the diet, which would increase the release of calcium from bones, weakening them over time.  This makes sense since calcium’s involved in a lot of really important functions, some which are more important than bone strength (e.g. nerve and heart function).  So the bones go in order for more important things to continue to function.

Cow’s milk isn’t too expensive at supermarkets here (at least, not the strange long-shelf-life kind that is imported from Europe and will likely be on this island longer than I am), but the fact that cow’s milk has to be imported from Europe suggests how important it is in the Caribbean diet.

Another thing could be fruits and vegetables.  Surprisingly, they also impact bone health.  Fruits and veggies have a lot of potassium which helps to decrease the acidity of your body.  Without the fruits and veggies, the acidity goes up and bones will tend to “de-mineralize” (i.e. dissolve).  Not sure why there’d be a lack of fruits and veggies in the Caribbean diet.  Maybe it’s just individual kids personal preferences not to eat them, or maybe it’s a greater emphasis on starchy foods when kids are weaning off breast milk.

And that’s that!

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Whutchu sayin'

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