Introduction to Nutrition Home  |   Outline  |   FAQ  |   Search  |   Feedback

IV. A Brief History of the Development of Nutrition

The pre-investigative days Failure to act on evidence:     Early scientific studies of nutrition Early scientific studies of nutrition: Lavoisier Early scientific studies of nutrition: The 19th Century Early scientific studies of nutrition: The discovery of vitamins     The 20th Century Quantitative requirements     Conclusion Conclusion: The oat bran story Conclusion: The vitamin E story Conclusion: Maximum reliability     Previous Page Next Page

Failure to act on evidence:

In 1536, 110 men in Jacques Cartier's exploration party were disabled by scurvy. The local Indians cured them miraculously with an infusion of evergreen needles. In spite of suggestive evidence that kept accumulating, it wasn't until the mid 18th century (1747), 200 years later, that James Lind performed the definitive experiments that showed fresh vegetable matter was curative. They did not know what component was efficacious, though they did discover that it was heat sensitive.

In later years, scurvy was by and large effectively controlled, except among the charges of pediatricians. In the late 1800s in the United States, babies started developing scurvy; there was a veritable plague. It turned out that the vast majority of victims were being fed milk that had been heat treated (as suggested by Pasteur) to control bacterial disease. Pasteurization was effective against bacteria, but it destroyed the vitamin C, causing a nutritional disease.


Previous Page Next Page