Researchers at McMaster University have found a rich new record of vitamin D deficiency, one that resides in the teeth of every person and …The team of anthropologists has determined that looking into the microscopic structure of teeth opens a window into the lives and challenges of people who lived hundreds of years ago, and whose only record is their skeletal remains.

Their paper, published online today in the Journal of Archaeological Science, establishes that when the body is deprived of vitamin D, permanent microscopic abnormalities form in the layers of dentin, … creating an ongoing record that can later be read like the rings of a tree.

…can yield valuable information about vitamin D deficiency – also known as rickets – which continues to be a serious public health issue, affecting some 1 billion people worldwide.

In life, bone material is constantly being remodelled, obscuring details of prior damage.

Dentin is not remodelled, and dental enamel – much harder than bone – protects the dentin long after death, making teeth a rich and accurate source of archaeological information.

Examining thin sections of the teeth under a microscope and using technology … the researchers were able to show that anomalies formed in the dentin layers during years when victims failed to get enough Vitamin D to fully mineralize the structures that form dentin and bone.

Source: Vitamin D: Hundreds of Years Later, Teeth Tell the Story of What Happened to People Who Didn’t Get Enough Sunshine