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Casimir Funk—Polish-Born American Biochemist

      In 1912, Casimir Funk, Polish-born biochemist, proposed the “vitamine hypothesis,” that is, the concept that the deficiency diseases—beriberi, scurvy, pellagra, and rickets—are caused by the absence of specific chemical substances (in trace amounts) in the diet. This proposal helped stimulate research in nutrition. Funk's investigation of antiberiberi factor revealed that it was an amine. Assuming that all similar substances were amines, Funk named these substances “vitamines” (vital amines or life amines). Later, however, investigators determined that only the antiberiberi substance, thiamine or vitamin B1, is an amine; thus, the term “vitamine” was changed to “vitamin.”
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