A Brief History of Vitamins

Find out how pirates fought off scurvy with lime juice—and how vitamins have been curing sickness ever since.

Mankind has always been an adventurous species, exploring new lands and sailing the sea. Along the way, we succumbed to strange diseases. To cure ourselves, we used trial and error to boost our nutrition with vitamins, long before they were available in bottles. In ancient Egypt, the original “vitamin” took the form of liver paste—full of vitamins A, D, E, K, and B12—which we rubbed on our eyes to cure to cure night blindness, a malady caused by Vitamin A deficiency. By the 18th century, pirates accidentally figured out that a few drops of lime juice—rich in vitamin C—effectively fought off scurvy.

In the video above, we watch in storybook style how humanity figured out certain vitamins were the solutions to some serious problems. Luckily, with the advent of easily procured supplements, you probably won’t have to resort to rubbing liver paste in your eyes to bridge your diet’s nutritional gaps.