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February 4, 1939


JAMA. 1939;112(5):434. doi:10.1001/jama.1939.02800050048013

Protracted mineral starvation may well be the principal cause of disability associated with the general osteoporosis commonly present in elderly persons. The basic dietary requirements for minerals of infants, and to a slightly lesser degree of older children and adolescents, have been established with reasonable accuracy. Little scientific interest has been shown in the problem of vitamin or mineral nutrition for the adult. The theory that protracted deficiencies in basic nutrition resulting from poor dietary habits may impair the health of the adult and contribute to the factors which produce disabilities commonly attributed to "old age" has rarely been postulated. Orthopedic surgeons have long been aware that many older patients show extreme degrees of demineralization of the skeleton, as demonstrated by the roentgenogram. Many adults develop this osteoporosis before they are 50 years of age. A still higher percentage show this skeletal deficiency by or before the age of 60