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Researcher analyzes hobbit and dragon diets, from Bilbo to Smaug

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Studying the diets of humans can become, well, boring. So a researcher set out to analyze the diets of hobbits and their enemies by evaluating the literature. Now he's published his findings under the title "The hobbit--an unexpected deficiency" in the December issue of the Medical Journal of Australia, reported CNET on Dec. 16.

To conduct the research, Nicholas Hopkinson, a lecturer at Imperial College London, carefully analyzed the habits of the hobbits, from their menus to their activities. He then distilled hints as to the diets of the Middle Earth residents. His conclusion: Vitamin D plays a key role in determining whether the creatures were good or evil.

Or, as Nicholas wrote in his abstract:

"We investigate the hypothesis that vitamin D deficiency, caused by both aversion to sunlight and unwholesome diet, could also be a significant contributor to the triumph of good over evil in fantasy literature."

Some examples of his findings and conclusions:

  • Bilbo Baggins gets bonus points for his variety, with a diet that ranges from chicken to cakes to red wine and tea. Fond of sitting in the sun, he benefits from healthy doses of vitamin D.
  • Evil Smaug lurks around at night, missing out on the vitamin D that he could have absorbed through the sun. He lacks variety in his diet since he focuses on, ahem, consuming people.

"More research would be needed to establish whether the results of the current pilot investigation are representative of the wider Tolkien corpus and indeed of fantastic literature in general," concluded Nicholas.

Want to err on the side of good and get enough vitamin D? Dr. Oz recently revealed that the following foods are good sources:

  • Oily fish like salmon
  • Egg yolks
  • Milk and cheese
  • Greek yogurt

In addition, spending time in the sun contemplating how to help the dragons in your life overcome their bad habits can be helpful. Attempting to replicate the exact diets of hobbits? Not so easy, recently revealed University of Texas at Austin linguistics specialist, Fred Hoyt, who uses Tolkien’s fictional languages in a course he teaches, in an interview with the State.

He noted that real world equivalents of hobbit foods such as seed cakes could be challenging to make, especially when the little furry critters sampled the elves' diets. Although an elfin figure is to be admired, Hoyt cautions that the foods cannot be replicated.

“The lembas had a virtue without which they would long ago have lain down to die ... this waybread of the Elves had a potency that increased as travelers relied on it alone," wrote Tolkien in "Lord of the Rings."

And this waybread, says Hoyt, "would definitely not have any real-world comparisons."

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