Man's physical universe

xanabras

UNIT X

SECTION 3

VITAMINS, ENZYMES, AND HORMONES CATALYZE THE

CHEMICAL REACTIONS IN LIVING ORGANISMS

The group of physiological catalysts consisting of vitamins, enzymes,

and hormones has been the object of a tremendous amount of research

during the past quarter of a century. When one realizes that these

substances are present in living organisms in extremely minute quantities,

one can appreciate the magnitude of the achievement which is

represented by the separation, purification, analysis, and synthesis

of so many of these catalysts. Little is known concerning many of

these substances beyond the recognition of their existence. Few

fields of research have been so fruitful in their benefits to the health

of mankind, and few fields of research have been so dependent upon

the methods of both the physical and biological sciences.

The main purpose of this Section is to tell enough about what has

been done in the study of physiological catalysts to cause you to be

alert to the developments during the next quarter of a century, which

may give man an unbelievable control over the growth, development,

and nature of living organisms.

Vitamins Are Physiological Catalysts Synthesized by Plants.

The term vitamin refers to a group of substances present in very

minute concentrations in many foods which are essential to normal

nutrition.

One of the earliest observations concerning vitamins was that beriberi,

a disease characterized by paralysis of the legs, general weakness,

dropsy, and anemia is common among people whose main article of

food is polished rice.

Beriberi threatened the fighting efficiency of the

Japanese army in the Russo-Japanese War in 1905. The troops were

being fed large quantities of polished rice. Someone remembered the

work of a Dutch scientist, Eijkman, who in 1897 artificially produced

beriberi in pigeons by feeding them polished rice and then cured them

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