The Hobbit – an unexpected deficiency

Joseph Hopkinson (a British student) and Dr. Nicholas Hopkinson have published a tongue-in-cheek paper in The Medical Journal of Australia looking at some health issues in Tolkien’s The Hobbit. The Hopkinsons suggest that the orcs in that novel were defeated partly because they were sun-deprived (and hence deficient in Vitamin D). The chart below summarises their findings:

Chart of Hopkinson and Hopkinson’s findings on Vitamin D deficiency in The Hobbit

This wonderful and timely paper certainly deserves an award for its potential benefits in science education. At the risk of being a grumpy old Scrooge, however, I can’t help but think that their limited textual dataset has led them to somewhat underestimate the Vitamin D content of a diet rich in fish:

So sleek, so fair!
What a joy to meet!
We only wish
to catch a fish,
so juicy-sweet!

Statue of Gollum with fish at 2012 Comic-Con in San Diego
Photo: Gage Skidmore (at 2012 Comic-Con in San Diego)


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