Vitamin A: an introduction

Vitamin A: an introduction

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The history of vitamin A

  • In 1910, Stepp, McCollum, and Hopkins (Nobel Prize in Medicine 1921) found stunted growth and conjunctivitis in experimental animals raised without vitamin A, which could be resolved by feeding them cod liver oil, butter, or milk.
  • In 1919 Steenbock discovered the connection between the carotene content of foods and their biological effects. Finally, in 1939, β-carotene was recognized as provitamin A. It was also found that avitaminoses could be compensated for by adding carotene.
  • The first attempts to synthesize vitamin A go back to Richard Kuhn, who published it in the 1930s.
  • The structure of vitamin A.1 was enlightened by Karrer in 1931 (Nobel Prize 1937).
  • Morton finally discovered vitamin A in 19372.
  • In 1935, Wald clarified the role of vitamin A in the visual process (Nobel Prize in Medicine 1967).
  • In 1944, Inhoffen, van Dorp and Arens published the synthesis of vitamin A acid. Isler et al. Succeeded in synthesizing pure crystalline vitamin A for the first time in 19471, 1952 finally that of vitamin A.2.

While vitamin A used to be mainly obtained from fish oil, today it is almost exclusively produced synthetically.