- The composer's illnesses may have been due to a lack of vitamin D.
- Musicians might want to get outside more or take vitamin D supplements.
- People who live in dark, northern places can't get enough vitamin D from sun exposure.
During his short life, Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart suffered from many of the era's common illnesses, including smallpox, typhoid fever, tonsillitis and upper respiratory tract infections.
What exactly it was that killed him in December 1791 at age 35, however, is still a matter of debate -- with theories ranging from poisoning to renal disease.
Now, two researchers offer a new theory: vitamin D deficiency. In his high-latitude home in Austria, Mozart was probably running low on the sunshine vitamin for half the year. That deficiency may have put the musician at risk for many of the illnesses he suffered from.
HSW: Everything You Need to Know About Vitamin D
If only Mozart had known about vitamin D and had access to supplements, he could have doubled his lifetime's output of work, mused William Grant, a retired NASA atmospheric physicist who has been following vitamin D research with great interest for the past decade. And, he argued, the same goes for several other famous musicians who died at young ages.