Vitamins and Deficiency Diseases

The Englishman Sir Frederick Gowland Hopkins is given credit for approaching the discovery of the vitamin concept when, in 1906, he determined that food contains essential ingredients beyond carbohydrates, minerals, fats, proteins and water. Hopkins shared the 1929 Nobel Prize in medicine and physiology for his discovery of growth stimulating vitamins. Polish-born Casimir funk (US) made great advances In 1912 when he hypothesized that certain diseases such as beriberi, scurvy, pellagra and rickets are caused by deficiencies of nutrients he called “vitamins”.

Vitamin-A - What is It?


Elmer Vernon McCollum and Marguerite Davis, American biochemists, found Vitamin-A in butter and egg yolk in 1913. Thomas Burr Osborne (U.S.) and Lafayette Mendel (U.S.) made the discovery simultaneously, but McCollum was able to publish his and Davis' findings first. In 1915 McCollum labelled the substance “fat-soluble A”, a name changed to “Vitamin A” in 1920 by British biochemist Jack Cecil Drummond. In 1937 American chemists Harry Nicholls Holmes and Ruth Elizabeth Corbet isolated Vitamin-A as crystals from cod liver oil. The chemical name of Vitamin A1 is Retinol and chemical name of Vitamin A2 is Dehydro Retinol. The deficiency of Vitamin A leads to xerophthalmia, night blindness.


Vitamin-B - What is It?


Edward Vedder (U.S.) and Robert Williams (U.S.) are given credit for being the first to detect water-soluble vitamin-B in 1912 as an antineuritic substance effective in curing pigeons of neuritis, a disease similar to that of beri-beri in humans. Three years after this discovery Elmer Vernon McCollum (U.S.) and Marguerite Davis (U.S.) labelled it “water-soluble B”, which British biochemist Jack Cecil Drummond changed to “Vitamin B” in 1920. Robert Williams (U.S.) synthesized Vitamin B-1 in 1934 and came to realize the existence of the B- Vitamin Complex.  B- Vitamin Complex includes B1 (chemical name - thiamine), B2 (chemical name - riboflavin), B3 (chemical name - niacin), B5 (chemical name - pantothenic acid), B6 (chemical name - pyridoxine), B7 (chemical name - biotin), B9 (chemical name - folate) and B12 (chemical name - cobalamin). The deficiency of Vitamin B1 is Beri-beri, B2 is Retarded growth and bad skin, B12 is Anaemia.


Vitamin-C - What is It?


During the 1920's, British biochemist Jack Cecil Drummond suggested that an antiscurvy factor postulated by Polish-born Casimir Funk (U.S.) in 1912 was a substance called Vitamin-C. A Hungarian-born biochemist, Albert Szent Gyorgi (U.S.) succeeded in isolating Vitamin C in 1932 and was awarded the 1937 Nobel Prize in medicine and physiology as a result. Simultaneously in 1932, Charles Glen King, an American biochemist, also isolated Vitamin C and went on in 1933 to determine its structure. Also in 1933, Tadeus Reichstein (Switzerland) synthesized ascorbic acid. In 1934, Sir Walter Norman Haworth, an English chemist, synthesized it independently of Reichstein and suggested the name ascorbic acid. Hence the chemical name of Vitamin C is Ascorbic acid. The deficiency of Vitamin C leads to Scurvy.


Vitamin-D - What is It?


Elmer Vernon McCollum (U.S.) and his colleagues determined in 1922 that an antiricketic substance existed as a nutrient in cod liver oil. They called this nutrient Vitamin-D. In 1926 British biochemists Otto Rosenheim and T.A. Webster found that sunlight converted a steroid called ergosterol into Vitamin-D. At the same time German chemist Adolf Windaus made a similar discovery independently, contributing to his 1928 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. The chemical name of Vitamin D is Calciferol. The deficiency of Vitamin D leads to Rickets.


Vitamin-E - What is It?


The existence of a fertility substance found in such foods as fresh lettuce, wheat germ and dried alfalfa leaves was suggested in 1922 by Herbert McLean Evans (U.S.) and K.J. Scott (U.S.). In 1923 Barnett Sure (U.S) recommended that the substance be labelled Vitamin-E and extended the list of foods in which it is found to include polished rice, yellow maize and rolled oats. Evans and his group were able to isolate Vitamin E in 1936 and named it ‘tocopherol’, from the Greek word meaning 'to bear children'. Hence the chemical name of Vitamin E is Tocopherol. The deficiency of Vitamin E leads to muscle weakness and vision problems.


Vitamin-K - What is It?


Danish biochemist Carl Peter Henrik Dam discovered Vitamin K in the 1930's and found it to be a factor in blood clotting. In 1939 Edward Adelbert Doisy (U.S,) isolated it and determined its structure. Dam and Doisy shared the 1943 Nobel Prize in medicine and physiology for their research. The chemical name of Vitamin K is Phylloquinone. The deficiency of Vitamin E leads to Excessive bleeding due to injury.