Vitamin A and C

Vitamin A and C - Tamara Tamas Chemical Literature 270...

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Tamara Tamas Chemical Literature 270 Febee Louka 03/12/10 Introduction Vitamins are organic compounds required as nutrients in small amounts by an organism for essential biological processes. 1 The only way to receive these nutrients is by diet either in the form of food or health supplements. In this paper I will be focusing on two specific types of vitamins: A and C. The discovery of these life sustaining substances came from the absence of them in diet and the suffering their absence caused in human history. I will discuss in this paper how these two essential vitamins came to be known, how they affect the human body, and why it is important to take your vitamins. History of Vitamin A Centuries ago, the Egyptians wrote about how pressing the liver of an ox to the eye cured night blindness. 3 The medical ritual used “magic” to transfer the strength of the ox to cure the person, but it was not magic, it was actually the transferred vitamin A which cured them. 2 Hippocrates (460-327 B.C.) noticed night blindness was also associated with infectious diseases such as otilis, sore throat, and fever to which raw beef liver was the cure. 2 From then other medical texts found from the Assyrians, Chinese, Arabic, Hebrew, and Spanish recommended the same topical treatment with goat's liver followed by consuming the organ. 2 No one knew that the reason liver cured night blindness was because of vitamin A but they continued to use it. During the colonial expansion of Europe, Dutch physician Jacob Bontius (1592-1631) wrote in De Medicina Indorum about sailors curing night blindness by eating the liver of a shark. 2 Austrian physician, Eduard Shwarz (1831-1862) did one of the first early experiments in human nutrition to confirm the effectiveness of this old folk cure by going on a three year scientific voyage around the 1
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Tamara Tamas world. 2 By recording the results of night blindness that affected the crew, he concluded that it was a nutritional disease of some sort. 2 Vitamin A was getting closer to discovery. M. Mori did a nutritional study in 1904 of children affected with night blindness and reported their diet consisted of grains with some vegetables then cured the ailment with cod liver oil. 2 During WWI many people subsisted on subsides such as fat free milk, oatmeal, and barely soups which resulted in night blindness. 2 C. E. Bloch did a study on children giving one group whole milk and the other only vegetable fat. 2 The latter group developed corneal xerosis thus concluding in his report that not only cod liver oil, but whole milk, butter, and eggs contained substances that protected against ulcerations of the eye resulting in night blindness. 2
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This note was uploaded on 03/27/2010 for the course CHEM 270 taught by Professor Febbe during the Spring '10 term at ULA VE.

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Vitamin A and C - Tamara Tamas Chemical Literature 270...

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