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Sunday, 9 February 2014

Vitamin B1

Christiaan Eijkman (1858-1930) was a member of a medical team that was sent to the East Indies to study beriberi in 1886. At that time , all diseases are thought to be caused by microorganisms. When microorganisms that caused beriberi could not be found, the team left the East Indies .

Eijkman stayed behind to become the director of a new bacteriological laboratory. In 1896, Eijkman accidentally discovered the cause of beriberi when he noticed that the chickens used in the laboratory had developed symptoms characteristic of the disease. He found that the symptoms had developed when a cook had started feeding the chickens rice meant for hospital patients. The symptoms disappeared when a new cook resumed feeding chicken feed to the chickens.

Later it was recognized that thiamine ( vitamin B1) is present in rice hulls but not in polished rice. For this work, Eijkman shared the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine with Frederick Hopkins.



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