The Story Of Vitamin D And Its Association With Other Diseases
Posted Sep 27 2010 6:21pm
Vitamin D is a fascinating molecule with a fascinating story.
Historically, “vitamins” were defined as chemicals that humans required from their environment that were “vital” to human health. These chemicals were needed only in very small amounts to prevent disease; an absence of a particular vitamin in the diet led to a specific deficiency disease: vitamin C, scurvy; thiamine, beri beri. Other vitamin deficiencies were found to be a bit more complicated: vitamin B12 deficiency was found to cause a type of anemia, dementia, and spinal cord problems.
Because vitamins are required in such small amounts, and are often present in small amounts in foods, their discovery was an opportunity to prevent and cure several diseases. One of these diseases was rickets.
Rickets was common in America and Northern Europe when vitamin D was discovered early in the 2oth century. A series of fascinating experiments found that a fat-soluble substance present in cod-liver oil had the ability to prevent and cure rickets. Environmental observations also found that children in the tropics were less likely to develop rickets than those in high northern latitudes, and sunlight seemed to prevent the disease.