The Evil Men Do. Is it Due to Vitamin D Deficiency, Sunlight Deficiency, or both?

The Evil Men Do. Is it Due to Vitamin D Deficiency, Sunlight Deficiency, or both?

By: Marc Sorenson, Sunlight Institute–

One of the more interesting articles to appear lately is a hypothesis regarding the “good guys vs. the bad guys” in fantasy literature.  What makes it unique is that the hypothesis was published in a major medical journal, The Medical Journal of Australia.[1]The researchers did an interesting analysis of the characters’ personalities and living patterns, especially the quantity of sunlight exposure, and then predicted the mythical vitamin D levels of the good, the bad and the ugly. The vitamin D scale ran from 0-4, with 0, of course, being the lowest level and 4 the highest.

The authors noted that the good (and victorious) characters had mean vitamin D levels of only 3.4, whereas the evil (and defeated) characters had mean D levels of only 0.2, or in other words, the vitamin D levels were 17 times higher in the good guys. When assessing lifestyle habits, the authors note that “sun avoidance is a recurring theme among the evil characters.” It is also interesting to note that the greatest and strongest of the “good-guy” warriors is a character called Beorn: he is also a vegetarian. The good guys enjoy sunlight exposure, whereas the evildoers shun it, even going so far as to have a cloud of bats shade them while they do battle.

Unfortunately, the authors give credit to the vitamin D levels only and totally ignore the greater likelihood that vitamin D levels play only a miniscule part. Sunlight exposure stimulates the production of serotonin in the brain,[2] which elevates mood, as do endorphins—also stimulated by sunlight.[3] Neither of these products have anything to do with vitamin D. As long as we are talking fantasy, I opine that it is sunlight per se, and not vitamin D, that makes the underground dwellers evil. Vitamin D is a wonderful hormone produced by exposure of the skin to the UVB portion of sunlight, but the real lifting of the mood is cause by other attributes of the sun.

All of this reminds me of a statement made by a past president of the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), Dr. Wilma Bloomberg, who said, “In some vision as I grow older I see us moving to more shelters and perhaps underground living because of these hazards (meaning sunlight).”[4] I have always referred to the AAD as the Powers of Darkness, and this research, along with the Dr. Bloomberg’s statement, prove that the moniker is well-deserved. It is no wonder that dermatologists have the lowest levels of vitamin D of any profession,[5] and with their lack of sunlight caused by living in caves, they could probably play the part of the evil characters in the next edition of The Hobbit. Sunshine and happiness go together. Embrace the sunshine, but don’t burn. Regular, non-burning sunlight exposure will dramatically improve both your physical and mental health.


[1] Joseph A Hopkinson and Nicholas S Hopkinson. The Hobbit — an unexpected deficiency. Med J Aust 2013; 199 (11): 805-806.

[2] Lambert GW, Reid C, Kaye DM, et al. Effect of sunlight and season on serotonin turnover in the brain. The Lancet. 2002;360:1840-1842

[3] Asta Juzeniene and Johan Moan. Beneficial effects of UV radiation other than via vitamin D production. Dermato-Endocrinology 2012;4(2):109–117

[4] Dr. Wilma Bergfeld, then-president of the American Academy of Dermatology at Derm Update, the AAD’s 1996 annual media day, Nov. 13, 1996.

[5] Czarnecki D et al. The vitamin D status of Australian dermatologists. Clinical and Experimental Dermatology 34; 624-25.

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