The story of the discovery of the significance of the hitherto unidentified dietary essential at present designated as vitamin A is of unusual interest to students of medicine. It helped to implant more firmly the idea that diseases may be due to deficiencies. Thus, the "Report on the Present State of Knowledge Concerning Accessory Food Factors (Vitamines)" prepared for the British Medical Research Committee in 1919 points out that:
Disease is so generally associated with positive agents—the parasite, the toxin, the materies morbi—that the thought of the pathologist turns naturally to such positive associations and seems to believe with difficulty in causation prefixed by a minus sign. Even in connection with deficiencies arising within the body there is or was a similar tendency. When the importance of internal secretions was first recognized there seemed to be much hesitation in believing that symptoms might be frankly due to their failure.
MENDEL LB. VITAMIN A. JAMA. 1932;98(23):1981–1987. doi:10.1001/jama.1932.27320490002009
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