Friday, 27 January 2012

Rickets, A Return To The Past

This, unusually, is a guest post. I am only obeying orders.


In the early/mid 20th Century it was recognised that the disease Rickets was caused by a deficiency of Vitamin D. As it was known that the Vitamins A and D are soluble in animal fats and fish oils, it was clear that a diet which includes such foods would provide the necessary amounts.

Food was less plentiful then and took a large part of household incomes so it became Government policy to ensure that the population acquired these nutrients.

Margarine, as a manufactured product, was fortified with vitamins A and D. Cod Liver Oil and orange juice (Vitamin C) were sold at modest prices in Mother and Child clinics, along with baby formula mil powder.

Mothers were encouraged to give these daily and during the Second World War and beyond, when food was scarce, these measures proved successful in preventing the disease.

Also, children were encouraged to exercise and to seek fresh air and sun as far as possible. In more recent times people have been discouraged from consuming animal fats in all forms. Skimmed milks, vegetable oils, “low fat” products have all been heavily promoted.

Whole milk, eggs, butter and other animal fats have been discredited in an almost hysterical way aided by the commercial promotion and marketing of a wide range of food products playing on those fears.

Perhaps this is a very good reason why the incidence of Rickets is increasing so alarmingly.


Food for thought.


  1. I remember my mother saying how much healthier babies looked in the wartime. Whilst food was short and rationing strict, children's diets were looked after. One of my aunts was a domestic science graduate and employed to specify and install kitchens for school meals and works canteens - the less glamorous end of what Marguerite Patten and others were doing with ingenious recipes and demonstrations.

    Food rationing was a great achievement and the country's general health improved considerably.

  2. I suspect that playing outside in the fresh air and sunlight also cranked up our immune systems. Scratches, grazes, cuts and bruises were all more important than we knew.