It wasn’t just crafty hobbits that enabled the dark forces of Middle Earth to be defeated in science fantasy godfather JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings – they were also vitamin D deficient, scientists have discovered.
Nicholas Hopkinson, a doctor at Imperial College London, detailed dietary intakes and lifestyles after tackling Tolkien’s texts and concluded orcs, dragons, the anaemic half-man creature Gollum and other LOTR evil-doers were sadly lacking in vitamin D.
In this deficient state, they underperformed in key areas like hand-to-hand battle, marching and strategic thinking.
In the study published in the Medical Journal of Australia, Hopkinson and his son Joseph laid the deficiency blame on subterranean living and erratic diets featuring rotten meat and unsavoury fish.
At the same time, Bilbo Baggins, the hero of the LOTR prequel, The Hobbit, was vitamin D abundant even though he lived in a house crafted into a mound in The Shire in Tolkein's mythical Middle Earth. But his abode had windows and he frequently gardened outdoors and ate a mixed diet.
"The hobbit diet is clearly varied, as he is able to offer cake, tea, seed cake, ale, porter, red wine, raspberry jam, mince pies, cheese, pork pie, salad, cold chicken, pickles and apple tart to the dwarves who visit to engage him on the business of burglary," said Imperial College.
"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," the researchers conclude.
Data on D
Vitamin D refers to two biologically inactive precursors - D3, also known as cholecalciferol, and D2, also known as ergocalciferol.
Both D3 and D2 precursors are transformed in the liver and kidneys into 25- hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D), the non-active 'storage' form, and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (1,25(OH)2D), the biologically active form that is tightly controlled by the body.
Vitamin D deficiency, which is defined as a status of less than 20 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) of 25-(OH)D, can cause a number of health issues, including rickets and other musculoskeletal diseases.
Data suggests that vitamin D deficiency (<20 ng/mL) and vitamin D insufficiency (between 21-29 ng/mL) may be linked to cancer, autoimmune diseases, infectious diseases, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Epitaph: The dark lord Sauron, along with a majority of his orc armies and Gollum, perished in the lava fires of the crumbling Mount Doom in Mordor at the end of the third instalment of LOTR: 'The Return of the King'. Bilbo went to live with elves, while his nephew Frodo and three other hobbits returned to live healthy, vitamin D-abundant lives in The Shire.