Saturday, November 19, 2022

Niacin enrichment in food

Niacin, also known as nicotinic acid was synthesized in 1867 by oxidation of nicotine and widely used in photography. It was long thought that it has nothing to do with food or health issues, until German scientists demonstrated that nicotinic acid occurs in yeast and in rice polishing.

Niacin is the vitamin B3 and has fundamental roles as part of reduction/oxidation coenzymes involved in energy metabolism, amino acid metabolism, and detoxification reactions for drugs and other substances.

It was isolated by the Polish-American biochemist Casimir Funk in 1912, while he was trying to find a cure for another disease known as beriberi (nutritional disorder caused by a deficiency of thiamine).

Between 1906 and 1940 more than 3 million Americans were affected by pellagra with more than 100,000 deaths. An Austrian-American physician Dr. Joseph Goldberger, was assigned to study pellagra by the Surgeon General of the United States and produced good results.

In 1915, Dr. Joseph Goldberger working as a physician in the U.S. government's Hygienic Laboratory conducted a series of experiments on 11 healthy volunteer prisoners in a Mississippi jail and found that he could induce pellagra by altering their diets. He discovered the cause of pellagra and stepped on a number of medical toes when his research experiments showed that diet and not germs (the currently held medical theory) caused the disease.

He also stepped on Southern pride when he linked the poverty of Southern sharecroppers, tenant farmers, and mill workers to the deficient diet that caused pellagra. He concluded that the disease was caused by the absence of some factor that was lacking in corn, but that could be found in meat and milk.

In 1937 by the American biochemist Conrad Arnold Elvehjem induced a black tongue in dogs by feeding them the Goldberger diet, and then cured the disease by supplementing their diet with nicotinic acid. He later identified the active ingredient, referring to it as "pellagra-preventing factor" and the "anti-blacktongue factor." He also isolated the P-P factor from active liver extracts, showing that this factor is actually nicotinic acid (subsequently named niacin for nicotinic acid vitamin). The body's synthesis of this vitamin depends on the availability of the essential amino acid tryptophan, which is found in milk, cheese, fish, meat and eggs.

After this discovery, grain products (wheat, maize) were enriched with nicotinic acid or nicotinamide. The first tests of flour enrichment began in the 1930s. In 1941, the U.S. began mandating the enrichment of white flour-based food with niacin, and together with other nutrients such as iron, thiamin, and riboflavin (folic acid was added to this list in the 1990s).

By 1943, 75 percent of all white bread and family flour in New York was enriched, up from virtually none a few years prior. In 1943, enrichment of all bread was required as part of the War Food Administration’s Food Distribution Order and codified in War Food Order No. 1. When the government lifted wartime measures in 1948, enrichment became voluntary again.
Niacin enrichment in food