May 28, 2018

473 The Missing Vitamins [28 May 2018]

We all know about vitamins A, C, D, E and K and the B vitamin family of B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin), B9 (folic acid) and B12 (cobalamin). Did you ever wonder what happened to the missing vitamins F through J and Bs 4, 8, 10 & 11?

The early and mid 20th century was an exciting time for nutritional science. New vitamins and their deficiency diseases were being discovered every decade. The deficiency diseases, like scurvy and beriberi, were, of course, known for centuries but their causes remained elusive. Part of the problem was that a disease caused by NOT eating something was unheard of. The discovery of microbes as a cause of disease was well accepted by then (although that too was a hard sell in its day – see my story about Semmelweis, #021 July 2009) and all diseases were thought to be caused either by a pathogen or a toxin.

By 1912 (the year biochemist Casimir Funk coined the term “vitamine”) the idea was just starting to become accepted that scurvy, rickets, beriberi and pellagra were each caused by a deficiency of some unknown substance. The next few decades led to the discovery and naming, in alphabetical order of discovery, of the current family of 13 vitamins. To be classed as a vitamin it must meet two criteria: 1) be essential for health; and 2) not be synthesized in the body so must be obtained through diet.

The missing letters and numbers are compounds that were initially thought to be a new vitamin but turned out not to be. Vitamin F turned out to be essential fatty acids which were given their own nutrient class. Vitamin G was vitamin B2; and vitamin H was B7. Vitamin I was a nickname for the drug ibuprofen, so was passed over in the naming sequence. Vitamins J and L were found to be synthesized by the body. Vitamin M turned out to be B9. Vitamins O, P, S and U are all also synthesized by the body. Similarly vitamins B4, B8, B10 and B11 were also disqualified from vitamin status due to synthesis in the body.

To complete this discussion, pseudovitamins are a small group of compounds that act like vitamins but don’t meet the strict definition. This group includes inositol, choline, lipoic acid and PABA. A good B complex supplement will include all or most of these.

Source: Accidental Medical Discoveries – How Tenacity and Pure Dumb Luck Changed the World. Robert W Winters, MD, 2016

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

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