Description - Beriberi, White Rice, and Vitamin B by Kenneth J. Carpenter
In this comprehensive account of the history and treatment of beriberi, Kenneth Carpenter traces the decades of medical and chemical research that solved the puzzle posed by this mysterious disease. Caused by the lack of a minute quantity of thiamin, or vitamin B1, in the diet, beriberi is characterized by weakness and loss of feeling in the feet and legs, then swelling from fluid retention, and finally heart failure. Western doctors working in Asia after 1870 saw beriberi as the major disease in native armed forces and prisons. It was at first attributed to miasmas (poisonous vapours from damp soil) or to bacterial infections. In Java, chickens fed by chance on white rice lost the use of their legs. On brown rice, where the grain still contained its bran and germ, the chickens remained healthy. Studies in Javanese prisons showed beriberi also occurring where white (rather than brown) rice was the staple food among prisoners. Birds were used to assay the potency of fractions extracted from rice bran and, after 20 years, highly active crystals were obtained. In another ten years, their structure was determined and thiamin was synthesized.
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(229mm x 152mm x 19mm)
University of California Press
Publisher: University of California Press
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Book Reviews - Beriberi, White Rice, and Vitamin B by Kenneth J. Carpenter
Author Biography - Kenneth J. Carpenter
Kenneth Carpenter is Professor Emeritus of Nutrition at the University of California, Berkeley. His books include Protein and Energy (1994) and The History of Scurvy and Vitamin C (1986).