The Elusive Vitamin

H. P. Priestley


Inverstigations on nutrition during the latter part of the last century and the earlier years of this century seemed to have established that if one had the proper kinds and the correct relative amounts of proteins, fats, carbohydrates and mineral salts, and there was an adequate amount of energy in the food supplied, everything was all right and there was nothing further to think about. There was, however, evidence available that this did not represent the whole truth, and that something else might be necessary for growth and for the maintenance of health. Thus, scurvy was the bane of sailors taking long voyages right through the centuries, and it has long been known that it occurred after deprivation, for long periods, of fresh foodstuffs, and that it could be prevented and rapidly cured when fresh vegetables and fruit were available. It is of interest to us here that the first very long voyage undertaken in which scurvy did not appear was that on which Captain Cook visited Australia.

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