Historical Aspects

  • Hector F. DeLuca
Part of the Monographs on Endocrinology book series (ENDOCRINOLOGY, volume 13)

Abstract

The importance of sunlight to the sturdiness of the skeletal structure was alluded to even in ancient times (Hess, 1929). The apparently softer skulls of Persians compared to those of Egyptians were discerned in the field of battle. It is possible that the Egyptians, who shaved their hair and wore scanty clothing, permitted ultraviolet light to be incident on their skin, whereas the Persians, who wore turbans and covered much of their bodies, prevented ultraviolet light from reaching their skin. Possibly, vitamin D was not produced in sufficient quantities, resulting in thinner bones. Whether or not this actually occurred is a matter of speculation. However, there are writings throughout recorded history of debilititating bone disease that might well have been related to inadequate irradiation by sunlight because of religious or cultural practices or because of the life style (Hess, 1929). Whatever the speculation, at least in modern recollection, the first’true description of a bony disease considered to be rickets was by Glisson in 1650 or by Whistler in 1645 (Hess, 1929). The bony lesions of rickets were described in increasing detail over the next several centuries, but it was not until the 1900s when the disease rickets was given a scientific basis (Mellanby, 1919a and b).

Keywords

Cholesterol Phosphorus Corn Carbohydrate Europe 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin, Heidelberg 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hector F. DeLuca
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biochemistry, College of Agricultural and Life SciencesUniversity of Wisconsin - MadisonMadisonUSA

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