Nutritional anaemia : a multiple nutrient hypothesis concerning iron, vitamin C, folic acid and vitamin B12, in the Dickson Mounds Mississippian Period skeletal collection

Von Hunnius, Tanya (1999) Nutritional anaemia : a multiple nutrient hypothesis concerning iron, vitamin C, folic acid and vitamin B12, in the Dickson Mounds Mississippian Period skeletal collection. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

In the realm of nutritional anaemia, iron deficiency anaemia is the one well known and most often cited cause of the skeletal alterations cribra orbitalia and porotic hyperostosis. However, this thesis has put forward the possibilities of including several other dietary factors that, when lacking in the diet, can cause anaemia. These other nutrients include vitamin C, folic acid and vitamin B₁₂. By presenting information concerning the sources, metabolism and the physiological roles each of these four nutrients play in the human body, it becomes apparent that an interrelationship exists among them. This synergism is compounded by the fact that when one of these nutrients is lacking in the diet a concomitant deficiency in another can occur. Iron, vitamin C, folic acid and vitamin B₁₂ are essential for proper maintenance of hematopoiesis. As a result, when they become deficient in the diet, the quality and quantity of mature red blood cells are altered and anaemia ensues. -- In order to extrapolate medical and nutritional literature to a paleopathological study, the Mississippian Period (A.D. 900-1500) skeletal collection from Dickson Mounds, central Illinois was analysed. This sample was utilized due to the wealth of previously published material concerning many facets of their existence, but most importantly due to the presence of cribra orbitalia and porotic hyperostosis already noted for this population. One hundred ten individuals from the 367 possible burials from this time period were used for this study due to their completeness, time constraints and available funds. A demographic profile of the population was first constructed and then a narrow focus was concentrated on the manifestations of cribra orbitalia and porotic hyperostosis. This smaller population was isolated even further via the macroscopic assessment of characteristic skeletal alterations for each specific nutrient for each individual. -- In the end, a small cohort of seven individuals possessed evidence of pathologies indicative of deficiencies and anaemia caused by the four previously mentioned nutrients used in this study. An additional sixteen individuals manifested deficiencies in at least two different nutrients. As a result, this study demonstrated that multiple nutrient deficiencies causing anaemia can be identified in one individual. The etiologies of these deficiencies may be caused by frank dietary insufficiencies related to a diet that relied heavily on maize, the pressures of sedentism, population expansion and the concomitant presence of diseases that may have altered the nutritional status of the people buried at Dickson Mounds. In effect, single nutrient hypotheses are no longer warranted for any paleonutritional study as many nutrients are synergistic and deficiencies of isolated nutrients are extremely rare.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/9228
Item ID: 9228
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 220-238.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Anthropology
Date: 1999
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: United States--Illinois--Dickson Mounds; United States--Illinois--Fulton County
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Anemia--Nutritional aspects; Prehistoric peoples--Food; Excavations (Archaeology)--Illinois--Fulton County; Dickson Mounds (Ill.)

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