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July 11, 1931


JAMA. 1931;97(2):105-106. doi:10.1001/jama.1931.02730020033015

Out of a welter of confusion, the rôle of vitamin D in the body is gradually emerging into a status of comparative clarity. It ought not to be necessary to speak apologetically of the uncertainties that still characterize the functions of the remarkable substance that can be created through the action of sunshine on a well defined chemical compound, ergosterol. Less than five years has elapsed since the fundamental experiments were announced and it was demonstrated that a daily dose of not more than 0.0001 mg. of the irradiated material (probably only in small degree converted to vitamin D) suffices to cure rickets in the conventional small experimental animals. Even of briefer history is the discovery that massive doses of the potent viosterol may elicit pathologic conditions. Meanwhile, viosterol has become a therapeutic agent of undeniable value. This is, indeed, a quick triumph of the experimental method in medicine.