Nineteenth century England during the Industrial Revolution was a grim place. The air in the cities was thick with coal dust, forcing people indoors and huge numbers of children suffered from soft bones and weak, twisted limbs. Doctors realized that children in rural areas didn't suffer the same ailments as their urban peers and ailing city kids were shipped off to the countryside and when they came back to the cities, they were usually just fine. The disease? Rickets, a condition defined by a twisting of the bones. The cure was sunshine and what we now know is more Vitamin D. Lesson learned, right?
A new report in the Archives of Internal Medicine
shows that between 1994 and 2004, the number of Americans with Vitamin D deficiency rose. And a lack of the vitamin isn't just tied to rickets anymore, but to cancer, heart disease and infections. For an explanation, we turn to Gabrielle Glaser, an author and journalist who writes about how culture affects health.