Casimir Funk: His Discovery of the Vitamins and Their Deficiency DisordersPiro A. · Tagarelli G. · Lagonia P. · Tagarelli A. · Quattrone A.
aInstitute of Neurological Science-CNR, Mangone, and bInstitute of Neurology, Magna Graecia University, Catanzaro, Italy
The history of the discovery of vitamins is the history of their deficiency disorders. Their discoverer was Casimir Funk, who is considered the ‘father of vitamin therapy’. In his experimental research, Funk studied the interrelationships in the human body of those elements that Eijkman had demonstrated in animals, particularly in birds. In his experimental research, Funk identified the dietetic factors whose lack caused the ‘deficiency disorders’, as he called human beri-beri, scurvy, rickets and pellagra. In 1911, he designated these factors ‘vitamins’ (‘vita’ = life, and ‘amine’ = a nitrogenous substance essential for life); this name was accepted by the scientific community in 1912.
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