chapter  4
22 Pages

Vitamins and Phytochemicals

As vitamins occur in such small quantities in foods, their discovery was a slow process. Traditional cultures had many practices incorporated into their food habits, which ensured that vitamins were adequately supplied, although they would not have been able to offer an explanation. These include the making of drinks from pine-needle infusions to supply vitamin C and soaking maize in lime water to liberate niacin. Limes were included in the cargo on long sea voyages in the eighteenth century in response to a perceived lack of ‘a nutritional factor’ in the remaining provisions, which had traditionally resulted in death among sailors.