The value of certain foods in maintaning health was recognized long before the first vitamins were actually identified. In the 18th century, for example, it had been demonstrated that the addition of citrus fruits to diet would prevent the development of scurvy. In the 19th century it was shown that substitung unpolished for polished rice in a rice-based diet would prevent the development of beriberi.
In 1906 the British biochemist Frederick Hopkins demonstrated that foods contained necessary “accessory factors” in addition to proteins,carbonhydrates,fats,minerals and water. In 1911 the Polish chemist Casimir Funk discovered that the anti-beriberi substance in unpolished rice was an amine- a type of nitrogen- containing compound, so Funk proposed that it should be named vitamine –for “vital amine”.
This term soon came to be applied to the accesory factors in general. It was later discovered that many vitamins do not contain amines at all, yet because of its widespread use, Funk’s term continued to be applied, but the final letter e was dropped.