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  • Amy Scholten, MPH
Publication Type:




Osteomalacia is a disease that makes bones soften and weaken. Treatment can improve outcomes.


Vitamin D helps the body use calcium to build bone. The most common cause of osteomalacia is a low level of vitamin D. This may happen due to:

  • Not getting enough vitamin D
  • The body does not use or absorb vitamin D due to:
    • Certain diseases
    • Medicines
    • Toxins
    • Inherited conditions

Risk Factors

The risk of osteomalacia is higher in older adults and those with darker skin. Other things that raise the risk are:


Osteomalacia often does not cause symptoms. In those that have them, symptoms may be:

  • Bone pain
  • Muscle pain or weakness
  • Problems moving around

The condition can also cause deformed and broken bones.

Curvature of the Spine.

http://services.epnet.com/getimage.aspx?imageiid=25572557si55551481.jpgScoliosisNULLjpgScoliosisNULL\\filer01\Intellect\images\si55551481.jpgCopyright © 2002 Nucleus Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.23NULL2002-10-012553912557_878357Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.


The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam may be done.

Tests may include:

This may be enough to make the diagnosis. The doctor may want to do more tests to find the cause.


The goal of care is to treat the cause. Problems from osteomalacia also need to be treated.

Options to treat the cause may be:

  • A diet rich in vitamin D
  • Vitamin D supplements
  • Calcium or phosphorus supplements
  • Regular sun exposure—in moderate amounts

If medicines caused the condition, they may need to be stopped or changed. Other medicines may be given to treat underlying causes.

Problems due to osteomalacia may also need to be treated. Options may be:

  • Braces to reduce or prevent bone deformities
  • Surgery to fix bone deformities—in serious cases


To risk of osteomalacia may be lowered by:

  • A diet rich in vitamin D
  • Vitamin D, calcium, and other mineral supplements.
  • Regular but moderate sunlight exposure




  • Chang SW, Lee HC. Vitamin D and health - The missing vitamin in humans. Pediatr Neonatol. 2019;60(3):237-244.
  • Hypophosphatemia—approach to the patient. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/hypophosphatemia-approach-to-the-patient.
  • Osteomalacia. Cedars-Sinai website. Available at: https://www.cedars-sinai.edu/Patients/Health-Conditions/Osteomalacia.aspx.
  • Osteomalacia. Cleveland Clinic website. Available at: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/13017-osteomalacia.
  • Osteomalacia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/osteomalacia-om.
  • Vitamin D deficiency in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/vitamin-d-deficiency-in-adults.


  • Dan Ostrovsky, MD
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.