As many of you know, I am an anthropologist as well as a nutritionist, and I have worked in several Central and South American countries. In fact, some of my most memorable field work was among the Bari (Motilone) Indians of Colombia pictured below. At the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research meeting of bone researchers in March of this year, I had the opportunity to meet a wonderful Brazilian endocrinologist, Dr. Marise Lazaretti Castro. She was at the meeting presenting her research findings on vitamin D deficiency in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Dr. Lazaretti and I took an immediate liking to one another, and right away, we began musing about what might be the “natural” human vitamin D level. We soon realized the perfect place to find out would be in the Brazilian Amazon.
As it turns out, Dr. Lazaretti might well have contacts who could facilitate access to such an indigenous population, so that we could hopefully be able to carry out this project one day. If so, I would like to look at a few more variables in addition to vitamin D. For example, I would like to assess the bone breakdown rates at different life stages and compare them with our rates of bone loss. I would also like to look at menopausal symptoms in such an indigenous group (such symptoms are often absent entirely), as well as changes in muscle strength and bone mineral density over time. What great fun even thinking about this. Here’s crossing my fingers it can become a reality! We only have so much time for this sort of research before all the indigenous people of the few remote, unaltered regions of the world become modernized and homogenized.