Dutch physician and pathologist Christiaan Eijkman (1858-1930) was born on this day in Gelderland, The Netherlands.
Eijkman is best known for his 1890s research in the tropical jungles of the Dutch East Indies (which is now Indonesia) of the disease beriberi. Beriberi, Sinhalese for "weak," impaired the nerves and heart. With an epidemic in Asia, as many as eighty percent died of the disease.
"Wisdom is not acquired save as the result of investigation," Hindu theologian Sankara Acharya once said.
Eijkman invetigated the cause of beriberi and found that a person had to live in an area for several weeks to contract the disease. By chance, he noticed the symptoms in chickens and narrowed the cause to their poor diet.
"Prevention," said the Renaissance scholar Erasmus, "is better than cure."
Eijkman concluded that beriberi was caused by depriving the body of certain unknown substances, later identified as vitamins. For this discovery, he received the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine in 1929.
Every day we learn more and more about the importance of nutrients to our health. New studies show a vitamin a day can keep depression away. Essential to mental and emotional well-being, the B-complex vitamins cannot be stored in the body and are destroyed by nicotine, caffeine, alcohol, and sugars. Vitamins B1 (thiamine), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B12 and folic acid all help the body stay balanced.
Get in tune with your body. Taking vitamins will help!
As Nobel Prize-winning biochemist Albert Szent-Gyorgyi said, "Vitamins, if properly understood and applied, will help us to reduce human suffering to an extent which the most fantastic mind would fail to imagine."
Even outrageous rocker David Lee Roth recommended, "Rock and Roll is attitude, burgers, naps, and vitamins."
Improved health, may be just a vitamin away.