IN 1911, Polish chemist Casimir Funk made one of the most influential biomedical discoveries of all time. He learned that a disease called beriberi affected those who ate a diet of mainly white rice, but not those who ate mostly brown rice. He isolated a chemical from rice bran, showed it could prevent beriberi, and called it “vitamine”.
We now call that compound vitamin B1. It is one of many essential nutrients that the human body cannot produce in sufficient quantities and that we must obtain from food. Casimir’s breakthrough led to similar discoveries, including the compounds that prevent scurvy and rickets. In 1920, the British chemist Jack Cecil Drummond proposed dropping the “e”