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December 4, 1948


JAMA. 1948;138(14):1042-1043. doi:10.1001/jama.1948.02900140034010

For a long time after the discovery of the various vitamins, the idea of specificity played a prominent part in their characterization. Such descriptive names as "antineuritic factor," "antidermatitis vitamin," "anti-infective factor" and "growth vitamin" were given to indicate the precise biologic deviation from normal resulting from the appropriate deficiency in the diet. The fact that these descriptive names have largely disappeared from the vocabulary of careful workers in the field of nutritional biochemistry means that the earlier concepts of specificity have undergone modification in the light of improvement in the technics of conducting nutrition experiments. Furthermore, the foregoing trend implies a new concept of coordination or interdependence of action among the vitamins.

A recent contribution1 emphasizes anew the connection between vitamin A and ascorbic acid; the Yale workers point out that typical signs of vitamin C deficiency (bleeding of the lacrimal glands, red and swollen gums, swelling of