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January 22, 1982

Nutrition and Nutritional Diseases: The Evolution of Concepts

JAMA. 1982;247(4):524-527. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03320290060042

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The history of ideas is a matter of prime concern to scholars and scientists, but in few areas of medical and scientific history is it more confused and haphazard than in the field of nutrition. Despite this confusion, there have been significant advances in certain vital aspects. Perhaps the major lesson to learn is that each person's requirements for various essential food substances that cannot be manufactured by the body are unique, and we can quantify them only in rather crude ways. The imporContinued on p 527. Continued from p 524. tant concepts of average requirement and average allowances are often misinterpreted by the public. It is not likely that we will have available an analysis of each person's precise requirements of various substances. Small organisms that grow rapidly and can be isolated, such as yeast and bacteria, can have their nutrient medium varied to find which elements are