As the world limped away from WWI, rickets was a growing problem. Rickets leaves children with soft bones that easily fracture and deform. Harriette Chick – born on this day in 1875 – was the first to unveil the possibility that sunlight could be key to its prevention and cure. As you lie in the sun and warmth seeps through your body, ultraviolet radiation from the sun’s beams is sparking off the production of vitamin D. Chick, one of the pioneers of the Medical Research Council – first formed in 1913 – set scientists on the way to discovering this with her meticulous study of the diet and activities of a group of rickets-ridden children in Vienna. She realised that the problems seemed to ease with the arrival of summer each year. By examining children kept in the shade and those allowed in the sun, she revealed the healing potential of our environment.
Written by Anthony Lewis
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