Universiteit Leiden

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Dissertation

D-lightful Sunshine Disrupted

This study stresses the importance of investigating vitamin D deficiency in every community to better understand the deteriorating effect that sociocultural practices may have had on health.

Author
Barbara Veselka
Date
29 January 2019
Links
Dissertation in Open Access

Vitamin D deficiency as a method for the reconstruction of changes in sociocultural practices due to industrialisation in 17th - 19th century Netherlands

Vitamin D deficiency is generally associated with the consequences of the Industrial Revolution, such as tall densely-packed buildings and air pollution blocking sunlight. Dermal synthesis of vitamin D under the influence of UVB radiation is important for a healthy skeleton and a deficiency may lead to pathological bowing of bones. The Netherlands did not experience the Industrial Revolution as many other European countries did and vitamin D deficiency was expected to be (nearly) absent in Dutch communities. To test this, six 17th - 19th century human skeletal collections from rural and small urban centres were analysed for vitamin D deficiency (N = 632 individuals). Regardless of geographic location, community size, daily activities, and socioeconomic status, all evaluated communities experienced vitamin D deficiency in childhood. Sociocultural practices, such as gender-related activities, as opposed to classic factors, are suggested to have been main etiological agents in the development of vitamin D deficiency. Application of newly developed methods for identification of this disease in teeth, showed vitamin D deficiency to be recurrent and often seasonal.

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