Minerva

Lack of vitamin D and other stories . . .

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f2530 (Published 24 April 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f2530

Homo sapiens probably reached Ulm in southern Germany around 40 000 years ago, when the area offered plenty of good mammoth hunting on the steppe between the Alpine ice mass immediately to the south and the endless glacier that covered Europe from about Hamburg northwards. The human population of Ulm has changed a great deal since then, but one ancient feature remains—Ulmians, like most people in Europe, are bad at making vitamin D. In a study of 1418 older people living in southern Germany, researchers investigated the seasonal differences in vitamin D levels (Age and Ageing 2013; doi:10.1093/ageing/aft042). They found that proportions of vitamin D deficiency, insufficiency, and sufficiency were 78.8%, 19.2%, and 1.9% in March 2009, respectively. Corresponding proportions in August 2009 were 16.1%, 63.4%, and 20.5%, respectively. Now that their supply of mammoth liver has dried up, the people of Ulm may need to look to other sources to remedy their …

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