New Perspectives on Past Vitamin D Deficiency

Author(s): Megan Brickley

Year: 2017


Less than half of the current world population is estimated to have adequate vitamin D status and potential consequences are much debated. For those engaged in addressing the challenges that vitamin D deficiency poses, information on past deficiency provides an important time dimension to current debates. Over the last 15 years I have undertaken extensive collaborative work on past deficiency. Investigations at St. Martin’s, a 19th-century UK site, established diagnostic criteria and revealed the socio-cultural complexity of deficiency. Work undertaken at McMaster has demonstrated that contrary to popular belief the condition is not just associated with Northern European cities in the Industrial Revolution. In the largest scale project undertaken to date (3426 individuals) vitamin D deficiency has been shown to be widespread across the Roman Empire (3rd-6thc.CE). Although latitude plays a role, level of urbanisation and social complexity are clearly also factors. New work on defects in dentine linked to vitamin D deficiency offers the opportunity to determine the number and severity of episodes of deficiency. Dentine defects are preserved indefinitely and in combination with skeletal features can illuminate the individual experience of deficiency in the past and contribute to current debates on health.

Cite this Record

New Perspectives on Past Vitamin D Deficiency. Megan Brickley. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431385)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14709