Vitamin D Part 1: Rickety Rickety Rickets

Vitamin D Part 1: Rickety Rickety Rickets

Let’s skip the introduction and jump right into some RICKETS!

What the hell is that you ask!?

Well, rickets was one of those diseases that baffled scientists and was a plague to society for hundreds of years.  Writings, that depicted symptoms that sounded eerily similar to those commonly found in children afflicted with Rickets, dating all the way back to the 1st and 2nd century AD.

Francis Glisson was a physician back in yonder days.  Around the time bloodletting was in and performing cautery on children was seen as A-ok.  1650 was quite the time to be alive.  Did I mention that Dr. Glisson, on top of bloodletting and burning pieces of children, also recommended artificial suspension to help children recover from those pesky bony deformities.   Just dangling them about was thought to help fix their poor little bodies.  Nothing like swinging a baby around hoping it fixes itself.

A baby is being held upside down by an older adult person. This image is supposed to somewhat portray kids with rickets being held upside down.

Cheese and rice.  How archaic, amiright?  It makes you think about how, around the 1930’s, Lobotomies were considered state of the art.  The man who invented this wonderful idea, Antonio Egas Moniz, even received a Nobel Prize for turning peoples brains into mush.  Mushier mush, anyway.

That’s so much more recent!  It’s incredible the leaps and bounds humanity has made in the past 80 years, let alone the past 360 years.

Anyway, I digress.

What is rickets, and what are the symptoms?  Well, Rickets is a debilitating disease that afflicted children, that developed due to (most commonly) a severe Vitamin D deficiency that is characterized by soft, weak bones, bowed legs,  pain, dental problems and a plethora of other unpleasant symptoms.  Rickets can also develop due to extremely poor calcium intake.

Rickets is incredibly rare in today’s society, but it does occasionally pop up from time to time, and it does appear to occur in underdeveloped countries.

Cod liver oil was a staple in the diet for many.  Being force fed to unfortunate children for generations.  Cod liver oil was used medicinally for quite some time, but it was not until 1824, a doctor by the name of  Dr. Scheutte would start to prescribe cod liver oil for the treatment of rickets.

It was understood that cod liver oil somehow helped those who suffered from rickets, but they couldn’t pinpoint why.

Scientists throughout the years tested multiple hypotheses in hopes that they would stumble upon the reason rickets developed.  This is how these conversations went.  Probably.

Some cubs developed rickets from eating only meat and recovered after being given some cod liver oil.  Fat deficiency, maybe?  Nah.  Next.

Puppy experimentation?  Let’s test many things and come to the conclusion that it is definitely diet related.  Those poor puppies.

A puppy on the ground in a cage with a fake tearing rolling down its poor puppy face.
Think of the puppies. 🙁

Okay, we have it this time.  Let’s do some testing with rats. Okay, so, let’s give them rickets.  Mm.  Yes, they definitely have rickets now.  Alright, so, uh, let’s… uh… yes it is definitely related to something with the diet.  Alright, let’s give them some cod liver oil.  Nice, they’re getting better.  Okay, sooo, mayyybe something to do with Vitamin A? Or maybe calcium?  Ah, fuck it, it’s something diet related.

Alright, this is it.  We most definitely have it this time.  Okay, guys stay with me here.  Let’s make some butter rancid.  I know I know, sounds crazy, but just follow me here.  Oh, and let’s make some cod liver oil all rancid and shit too.  We’re doing this because it’s supposed to get rid of one of those compounds in the butter and cod liver oil, Vitamin A.  It seems this rancid butter isn’t helping these rats recover from rickets, but this cod liver oil is.  Hmmm…okay I think we got it.  So the rancid cod liver oil is curing their rickets, but not curing their vitamin A deficiency.  Oh hell yes.  So it is a separate compound from Vitamin A.

This is exactly how it all happened.  Probably.

After this long process, they were eventually able to discover this separate compound known as Vitamin D.  Because of this discovery, they were able to Isolate Vitamin D, make it, then distribute it and largely cure rickets.

That’s it for part 1!  Next week I’ll go into what Vitamin D actually does.  Yay!

Quick note, I am impressed with how specific I can be when finding images on Canva.  I searched baby upside down and BAM  there were many babies being held upside down.  Canva is #1.  Unfortunately, I didn’t find much when I searched for lobotomies, but I’m still satisfied.

Any questions, comments, concerns, fan mail, and or hate mail; send them to, or comment below!


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