The First Identified Vitamin Was?
Although the value of eating certain foods to ward off illness or maintain health was recognized for centuries (the British military, for example, understood the importance of eating citrus fruits at sea to ward off scurvy long before they knew why it worked), the actual vitamins within the foodstuffs themselves weren’t formally identified through scientific analysis and discovery until 1910.
In 1910, the first vitamin complex was isolated by Japanese scientist Umetaro Suzuki when he successfully extracted a water-soluble complex of micronutrients from rice bran. The compound he isolated, which he called aberic acid, is what we now know as the Vitamin B family compound Thiamine.
When Suzuki’s article was translated from Japanese into German, it was translated poorly (and the new document failed to specify that the compound the paper was written about was new and previously undiscovered). As such, he received very little attention and the discovery went unnoted until a Polish biochemist, Casimir Funk, discovered the exact same compound in 1912 and not only widely published his results but gave us the very name “vitamin” (vitamine from vital amine) to call this new class of compounds by.
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