1920 Description of Vitamins

Text Description of Vitamins
Source: American Cookery (May, 1920)

Nutrition is important, so I try to prepare foods that contain lots of vitamins: spinach – yes; sugary pastries – no (at least most of the time).

A hundred years ago people were aware of vitamins (though they spelled the word differently), and, like now, they tried to prepare nutritious meals.


10 thoughts on “1920 Description of Vitamins

  1. As in many generalized statements, this one contains valuable direction. The last sentence misleads though. Safeguard is too strong an implication, in my opinion, for a “little fresh fruit juice” to make up a vitamin deficiency. At the least, the whole fruit should have been offered in a deficient diet.

    1. I agree. I tend to think that fruit juice isn’t the best food choice for children, and that it has the potential to cause tooth decay. Maybe, a hundred years ago, they they didn’t realize its limitations.

      1. You are right, of course. I recall about 70 years ago, my Mum opining that apple juice was none but sugar water, and a fraud on the household. She was referring to luscious Okanagan apple juice, but it likely had no fortification in it then.

  2. One of the most interesting scientific tales is the discovery of vitamin C, and its benefits. ‘Scurvy,’ the disease resulting from prolonged vitamin C deficiency. was common among sailors. In 1747, James Lind conducted a trial of six different treatments for scurvy, and found that only oranges and lemons were effective. Still, it wasn’t until 1928 that Albert Szent-Györgyi isolated a substance he called ‘hexuronic acid’; four years later, Charles Glen King isolated vitamin C in his laboratory and concluded it was the same as ‘hexuronic acid’. Finally, Norman Haworth discovered the chemical structure of vitamin C — in 1933, thirteen years after this American Cookery article was published. I’d say the writers of your article were well ahead of their time!

    1. It’s fascinating to learn more about the history of people’s knowledge of vitamins. I see articles about vitamins from time to time in hundred-year-old magazines, so I know that people had a least a rudimentary understanding of then – and, as in this article, the information generally seems fairly reasonable.

    1. I find it fascinating how some words (or spellings) have become archaic over the past hundred years. Sometimes I wonder which words that we use will be archaic in another hundred years.

  3. That is so interesting that even a long time ago, people were aware of the disadvantages of prepared foods and urged serving fresh. I love rarebit, what a wonderful reminder of a classic, thanks Sheryl!

    1. I think that people in 1920 had an awareness of both the possible loss of vitamins due to processing, and of possible food contamination and alternation. Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle was published in 1906 so there was a lot of concern in this era about processed foods.

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