Saturday, May 29, 2010

Vitamin Nomenclature

Vitamin Nomenclature
When the vitamins were originally discovered, they were isolated from certain foods. During these early years, the chemical composition of the essential factors was unknown; therefore factors were assigned letters of the alphabet.

The system of alphabetizing became complicated when it was discovered that activity attributed to a singles vitamin was instead the result of several of the essential factors.

In this way, the designation of groups of vitamins appeared (e.g., the vitamin “B” group). Additional chemical studies showed that variation in chemical structure occurred within compounds having the same vitamin activity but in different species.

To overcome this, a system of suffixes was adopted (e.g., vitamin D2 and D3). The original letter system of designation this became excessively complicated.

With the determination of the chemical structure of the individual vitamins, letter designation were sometimes replaced with chemical structure names (e.g., thiamin, riboflavin and niacin).

Vitamin have also been indentified by describing a function or its source. The term vitamin H (biotin) was used because the factor protected the ‘haut’, the German word for skin.

Likewise, vitamin K was derived from the Danish word koagulation (coagulation).

The vitamin pantothenic acid refers to its source as it is derived from Greek word ‘pantos’, meaning “found everywhere”.

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