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Vitamin D deficiency is associated with defeat in fantastical stories

Posted on: December 25, 2013   by  Brant Cebulla

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On behalf of the Vitamin D Council, Merry Christmas! And for those who don’t celebrate, we hope you are enjoying these final days in 2013.

Today I want to cover a study I know you will enjoy. It’s a study that has already thoroughly been covered in the news:

Joseph A Hopkinson and Dr Nicholas S Hopkinson out of London, UK, have found that vitamin D sufficiency is associated with victory over evil in fantastical situations. Conversely, vitamin D deficiency is associated with defeat.

The Hopkinsons published their findings in the Christmas edition of the Medical Journal of Australia.

A prominent feature of fantasy literature has been victory of good characters over evil characters. While past scientists have theorized that this can be explained by desire for cheerful endings, the Hopkinsons speculated that vitamin D deficiency may actually be at the root of this phenomenon.

Vitamin D deficiency in part causes or is associated with a weakened immune system, poor bone health, mental disorders and a variety of other debilitating diseases. In theory, vitamin D deficiency would hamper the ability to triumph in fantastical stories by way of impaired immune system and general bone and muscle weakness.

To examine this relationship, researchers textually analyzed The Hobbit by JR Tolkien.

They first categorized characters as either “good” or “bad.” They then collected data on specific character’s daytime habits, dwelling, light exposure and diet. Based on this data collection, each character was given a vitamin D score of 0, 1, 2, 3 or 4. Zero was consistently not getting any vitamin D, while a 4 was consistently getting good amounts of vitamin D.

After their analysis, here is what they found:

  • Good characters scored very high. Hobbits, men and high elves all scored 4’s.
  • Bad characters scored poorly. Smaug the dragon, trolls and goblins all scored 0. Gollum scored a 1.
  • Good characters triumphed over bad characters in The Hobbit.
  • The mean vitamin D score was significantly higher among the victorious (mean, 3.4; SD, 0.5) than the non-victorious (mean, 0.2; SD, 0.4; P < 0.001).

The researchers concluded,

“Systematic textual analysis of The Hobbit supports our initial hypothesis that the triumph of good over evil may be assisted to some extent by the poor diet and lack of sunlight experienced by the evil characters.”

However, given the observational nature of the study, we can’t say for sure if vitamin D deficiency causes defeat, or if it is merely associated with defeat.

Future research should use vitamin D supplementation in fantastical characters as a controlled intervention, to see if it leads to greater chances of victory.

Source

Hopkinson JA and Hopkinson NS. The hobbit — an unexpected deficiency. Med J Aust, 2013.

1 Response to Vitamin D deficiency is associated with defeat in fantastical stories

  1. Rita and Misty

    I certainly do celebrate Christmas, but I am very fortunate to have also a Jewish heritage.

    And your above article, Brant, calls the following to my mind:

    “Fighting evil is a very noble activity when it must be done. But it is not our mission in life. Our job is to bring in more light.”

    -The Lubavitcher Rebbe, of righteous memory.

    (perhaps the Rebbe understood the necessity of appropriate sunshine 😉 )

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