When was the first vitamins discovered?

Although food and nutrition have been studied for centuries, modern nutritional science is surprisingly young. The first vitamin was isolated and chemically defined in 1926, less than 100 years ago, marking the beginning of half a century of discoveries focused on single-nutrient deficiency diseases. He called the concentrate “vitamin E” because it seemed to be vital to life and because it was probably an amine. Then, starting in 1935, tablets of vitamin B complex extracted from yeast and semisynthetic vitamin C began to be marketed.

In the late 1950s, when several vitamin producers marketed their pills in imitation apothecary bottles, vitamins were figuratively used as “dinner dressings”. Estimated average requirements (EAR) and recommended dietary allowances (RDA) for vitamins, the PRI of the European Union (the same concept as the RDAs), followed by what three government organizations consider the maximum safe intake. Most vitamins sold as dietary supplements are not supposed to exceed the maximum daily dose called the maximum tolerable intake level (UL or upper limit). After nearly 100 years of development, the vitamin pill, born of a scientific discovery, perfected by industry and modeled by Madison Avenue, shows no sign of disappearing. At the beginning of 1941, the first table of recommended dietary allowances (RDA) appeared, which included the daily requirements for six vitamins and two minerals, expressed in milligrams and international units.

In 1931, Albert Szent-Györgyi and fellow researcher Joseph Svirbely suspected that hexuronic acid was actually vitamin C, and they gave a sample to Charles Glen King, who demonstrated its activity against scurvy in his long-established Indian scurvy test. Fifty years before this dinnertime scene, vitamins only existed as an unnamed idea in the minds of some biochemists researching human nutrition. Deformed, underweight and sickly, lacking vitamins “after rats (as well as other small experimental animals, such as chicks, guinea pigs and pigeons) were juxtaposed with images in which they appeared healthy and well-fed “before themselves. Workers in Wisconsin discovered that when cod liver oil is saponified, the vitamin remains in the unsaponifiable fraction; therefore, it is a sterol.

Salt and pepper shakers didn't suggest a lack of flavor in the food, nor did the vitamin package indicate a lack of the nutrients needed to keep the family healthy. Sterilizing milk destroyed the vitamin C content, so scurvy also became a common problem and this was just the beginning. Vitamin pills came of age in a country concerned with economic depression and war, and grew with the return to prosperity and, later, to a consumer-oriented culture. Educational materials produced by the foundation's Vitamin Information Office continuously reminded consumers of the need to take vitamin supplements. Mastin yeast vitamin tablets, created in 1916, were one of the main products of the time and, probably, the most similar to today's multivitamins, containing vitamins A, B and C, iron, calcium and Nux vomica, a homeopathic remedy for heartburn.

Ben Liebhardt
Ben Liebhardt

Amateur travel fanatic. General web buff. Certified travel junkie. Twitter nerd. Infuriatingly humble web practitioner. Certified beer nerd.

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