Vitamins have long been known as something we need to support our body and its normal function. But, has this always been the way? How long have we known about the importance of vitamins? This guide will take you through the history of vitamins, establishing exactly where this mission for a healthier body began.
Before we dive into the timeline of vitamins and where the need for them came from, let’s go through a quick briefing. After all, the retail sales of multivitamins has more than doubled over the past two decades, making us all wonder if it has always been this way.
At the start of the 20th century, it was believed that there were only three “essential nutrients”. These were:
While the above three areas are important to incorporate into your diet, we now know that a balanced diet requires a bit of extra seeing too. There are now 13 (yes – 13!) essential vitamins. The next step of this guide will take you through what these are.
Timeline Of Essential Vitamins
- 1912: Protein, carbohydrates, fats.
- 1941: Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, C, D, calcium, iron.
- 1968: Vitamins A, C, D, E, B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, calcium, iron, magnesium.
- Present Day: Vitamins A, C, D, E, calcium, eight B vitamins.
As you can see, a lot more research has gone into what nutrients our bodies need to thrive.
1912: The Discovery Of Vitamins
In 1912, a team of scientists got to work on trying to establish why so many people were falling unwell. At this time, it was only believed that there were three essential nutrients.
The scientists soon discovered that people were over-sanitizing their foods too much, in an attempt to remove all of the bacteria. Instead, they were zapping out all of the much needed nutrients! Casimir Funk (the “founder” of vitamins) came to the conclusion that a lot of illnesses would be resolved if the nutrients remained in foods.
1916: The Rise Of Products
Once the word got out that we all need nutrients, a lot of vitamin products started to come to the surface. From generic multivitamins to “super powerful” remedies, all health brands got on board with this new revelation. It’s safe to say that some were more legit than others.
1920: Shifting Focus To Specific Vitamins
During the 1920’s, a lot of the focus started to be on vitamin deficiencies. Vitamin A and vitamin C sales rose in particular; people thought that a vitamin containing one of these nutrients would solve all their troubles. This further led to the rise of multivitamins, selling the dream with very little research.
World War Two
During World War Two, it soon became clear that a lot of the men were struggling with poor nutrition. From here, the government initiated daily allowances for six vitamins and two minerals.
1973: Accessibility To Vitamins
In 1973, the company “MegaFood” saw the opportunity to make more “friendly” vitamins. This included using plant-based ingredients, rather than artificial and synthetic additions. Nowadays, there’s a vitamin for absolutely any lifestyle and nutritional need.
There you have it – a brief but interesting insight into the history of vitamins!