Sunday, October 27, 2013

Discovery of vitamin D

Vitamin D was discovered in 1922 as a substance in cod liver that cured sick dogs of a bone disorder called rickets. The earliest publication to acknowledge the medicinal use of cod liver oil for treatment of rickets appeared in the German literature in 1824 and is credited to D. Schutte.

Because the substance was proven to be something different than vitamin A which had also been characterized in cod liver oil, and a vitamin B and C had already been claimed, the new substance was called vitamin D.

From irradiation of mixtures of plant sterols, Adolf Windaus and colleagues isolated a material that was active in healing rickets. The structure of the substance was not determined.

The British group led by Askew was successful in isolating and determining the structure of the first vitamin D, vitamin D2 or ergocalciferol from irradiation of plant sterols.

In 1936, Windaus succeeded in identifying the structure of vitamin D3; vitamin D1 had been isolated earlier by Windaus and his colleagues but was later shown to be combination of vitamin D2 and an irradiation side product, lumisterol.

With the discovery of the oil soluble vitamin D the healing power of the sun known since the days of Hippocrates, known as the father of medicine, who live approximately 2300 years ago was finally understood.

Some doctors started to utilize the sun for the treatment of difficult skin related illnesses, but with the development of a modern pharmaceuticals industry in the 1950s after World War II such treatments were gradually stopped.

The addition of vitamin D to milk in the 1930’s essentially eradicated rickets in Europe and America.

In the 1980s, the effect of active vitamin D on inducing cell differentiation was discovered, suggesting that vitamin D not only modulates minerals homeostatic, but also regulates various cell functions.
Discovery of vitamin D

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