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Nutrient Deficiency Diseases

Pellagra

Pellagra is a vitamin deficiency disease associated with poverty. The symptoms of pellagra are referred to as the "three D's"-diarrhea, dermatitis, and dementia and if disease is not treated it may lead to death. Gaspar Casal (c. 1691-1759) was the first to publish a thorough explanation of pellagra in 1762 after his death. He studied and wrote about the disease which he observed in a region of Spain where it was called "mal de la rosa," because of the reddened dermatitis which appeared around the back of the neck. Even though the belief of his time was the disease was caused by an infection, Casal believed origins were from inadequate nutrition.

The popular belief that pellagra was caused by infection lasted from the sixteenth century to the early twentieth century until Joseph Goldberger (1881-1929) a member of the United States Public Health Service studied the high numbers of cases in the southern United States. Goldberger established that pellagra was caused by an insufficient amount of niacin (vitamin B3) also known as nicotinic acid and the active form of niacin that the body uses called niacinamide.


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Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADP) to Ockham's razorNutrient Deficiency Diseases - Early Vitamin Deficiency Diseases, Scurvy, Beriberi, Pellagra, Rickets, Other Vitamin Deficiency Diseases - Mineral deficiency diseases