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The Structure and Synthesis of Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) and its Analogues

  • E. L. Hirst
Chapter
Part of the Fortschritte der Chemie Organischer Naturstoffe book series (FORTCHEMIE (closed), volume 2)

Abstract

The history of organic chemistry can contain few chapters more unexpected in their development than that concerned with the isolation and chemical investigation of Vitamin C. Although it had been discovered in the early part of the 17th. century that scurvy could be both prevented and cured by the use of lemon juice, no progress was possible in the examination of the nature of the antiscorbutic factor until work on Vitamins and other accessory food factors had progressed sufficiently far to permit of the separation of these factors into groups differing in chemical and physiological properties. In the present instance, the possibility of detailed chemical investigation followed the discovery of HOLST and FROHLICH (I) that the guinea-pig was susceptible to scurvy in the same way as man. Methods for the quantitative estimation of Vitamin C were then elaborated by CHICK and HUME (2) and investigations on the preparation of concentrates containing the Vitamin., with the object of isolating it and studying its chemical constitution, were undertaken by ZILVA (3). At each stage these required tedious and difficult biological assays of potency and in view of the intractable materials, subsequent work having revealed that lemon juice although of high Vitamin content is a particularly unsuitable source for its isolation, noteworthy progress was made in the elucidation of its chemical properties. After removal of citric acid and other materials the Vitamin was precipitated in the form a of complex with basic lead acetate and after removal of lead with hydrogen sulphide, the resulting solution gave, on concentration, products several hundred times more active antiscorbutically than the original lemon juice. Subsequent work has revealed that these products approximated very closely to the pure Vitamin inasmuch as daily doses of 0,5–1,0 mg. of these concentrates sufficed to protect guinea pigs against scurvy.

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Copyright information

© Julius Springer in Vienna 1939

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. L. Hirst
    • 1
  1. 1.BristolEngland

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