The Discovery of Vitamins

Have You ever wondered what these little compounds are which we need so that we can survive?

Yes, and talking about Vitamins today, I want to start with a little introduction about Vitamins.

How do we know that we need Vitamins?

In the late 19th century, 1881 to be precise, the Russian chemist and doctor Nikolai Lunin did some experiments with mice. He fed them with the separated parts of milk, which were known at that time. It was protein, fat, carbohydrates and salt. And what he discovered was, that all the mice died, whereas they survived when fed with milk.

He concluded that there had to be more in the milk than the recently known parts, such as protein, fat, carbohydrates and salt, what the mice need to survive.

That was the first time the idea of vitamins came up and that it could be the same with human beings.

How long did it take to discover the first Vitamin and where does the name “Vitamin” comes from?

At the beginning of the 20th century, the polish biochemist Casimir Funk did some research on an illness called BeriBeri, which came up in some Asian countries like Japan and Java. People who had only eaten the newly peeled rice instead of the unpeeled one started to felt weaker and weaker.

Funk concluded that there has to be something essential for health in the husk of the rice what the human body cannot produce itself.

He examined the rice husk and found a nitrogenous compound. Today we know it as thiamine (B1). Therefore, in 1912 he created the name “Vita” – “amin”. “Vita” stands for life and “amin” stands for the nitrogenous compound. It will be
found out later that this is not the case for all vitamins, as not all of them have amino groups.

What is the rest of the story?

The other 12 vitamins (A, B-Complex, C, D, E, K), which are essential for humans were discovered in the following years until 1941.

It was a breakthrough in understanding and healing other common vitamin deficiency diseases such as scurvy and rickets.

So the history of the discovery of vitamins is not older than 100 years and it gives us the possibility to live a healthy and powerful life.

Let us know what you find most remarkable about the discovery of vitamins?




A very interesting as I never need a new where vitamins came from. It’s pretty amazing that even in the 19th century a chemist was able to deduce what vitamins survival depended upon.

Thank you for this great information and helping me to become more aware of vitamins. They’ve been around for a long time, now I know how long.


Thank you for your comment Jagi.

Vitamins seem to be so obvious to us. And we rarely think about them as to be so essential for our life. Vitamins have been there throughout all times of humanity which are some thousand years. But only with the developing technology and wisdom it was possible to identify them exactly and how important they are for us.


Hello and thanks for sharing, this is and awesome post with good information. This history of vitamins is so interesting we take them on a daily business to give are bodies what it needs but a lot of us have never including me to find out just where vitamins comes from. Thanks for sharing, this some great information, I am sure that your readers will love what you are sharing and they will really learn a lot.


Hello Norman,

I appreciate your comment. We know that vitamins are of everyday importance for our health. And that is why it is also good to know, how they have been discovered. If we know from where they come and how we can cover our needs, we will be able to take the responsability to live a vital and energized life.

I´m happy that you learned something new.

Until next time.



Great information on the discovery of vitamins. It is amazing to see that original testing and discovery of vitamins started with a simple mouse test.

We have certainly come a long way in the last 100 years in terms of research and have discovered how vitamins really are important for the human body.

I look forward to some of your future posts.



Hi Chris,

you are right. Often it is easier than we think. And the obvious is just in front of our eyes. We only have to look close enough.

On the one hand, it is amazing how far we got in terms of research and the discovery of vitamins in the last 100 hundred years. And on the other hand, it is astonishing how long it took us to find out that it is the vitamins that are so important for us, compared to the time humans exist on this planet.

So let´s support ourself with this useful knowledge about vitamins.

Stay tuned.


What a brilliant blog and a simple explanation at the beginning, about why the mice died when fed the different parts that made up milk (minus the vitamins).
This is the kind of information the public needs so they can start to look after their own health instead of keep running to the doctor, who mostly have no clue about vitamins and minerals. Doctors are not taught nutrition in medical college, they are only taught about the sick body and how to control conditions with drugs.
This is what I find most remarkable. I can only summise that big pharma don’t want the public to know that they can keep healthy with good nutrition. They want our diseases controlled by drugs so that the patient, or shall I say the customer, keeps coming back! Keep up the good work. I will look forward to more of your posts. Ches


Hi Ches,

thank you for your comment. Simple explanations make it easier for everyone to understand even difficult aspects. I´m willing to keep it as simple as possible, but with the necessary content to support you.

The experience with the mice was definitely a breakthrough.

In my opinion, everyone has the responsibility for his or her health. Moreover, we also have the power to heal ourselves. In most cases, we already know what we have to do to heal ourselves. We just have to be conscious enough. It is inner work. No doctor or drug can do that for you.

Health is all about you.

More posts are will be available soon.



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