Dodge, Duck, Dip, Dive, and….Niacin?

March 27, 2017


Way back in 2004, one of my all-time favorite comedies came out. As a fourteen-year-old gym class enthusiast, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, really spoke to me. There are plenty of quotable lines from the movie that I still recall, with one of my favorites being from the film’s dodgeball legend Patches O’Houlihan as he tells a young fan to always remember the five D’s of dodgeball: “Dodge, Duck, Dip, Dive, and...Dodge”. If you don’t get the joke, read it again.


I was reminded of this quote during a sophomore nutrition lecture in college. The professor was discussing vitamin deficiencies and focusing on niacin. Niacin is one of the B vitamins (specifically B3) and is important for energy metabolism. When the body is deficient in niacin, a condition called “pellagra” develops.


The professor explained that the symptoms of pellagra include the four D’s: diarrhea, dermatitis, dementia, and, eventually, death. This set of D’s wasn’t as funny as the ones from dodgeball, but my brain made the connection nonetheless. Pellagra was actually a huge problem in the southern U.S. (over 80,000 deaths) in the early 1900’s due to a low-protein diet that was mostly corn.


And now, in my brain, dodgeball and niacin are now forever intertwined. After reading this, perhaps they will be in yours as well.

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