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Corn, Niacin, and the History of Pellagra

Berdanier, Carolyn D. PhD

doi: 10.1097/NT.0000000000000374
History of Nutrition

The recognition that certain diseases were caused by a lack of a specific nutrient occurred as nutrition science evolved. In some instances, many centuries elapsed before a connection was made. In others, only a few hundred years elapsed between the description of a disease and its nutrient cause. This is the situation for the disease, pellagra, which was only recognized as impoverished people began to depend on corn as their major food source. This article describes the history of pellagra and its relationship to poverty and the consumption of corn.

Carolyn D. Berdanier, PhD, is professor emeritus of nutrition and cell biology at the University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia. She has authored more than 100 articles in peer-reviewed journals, contributed 40 chapters to multiauthored books, prepared 45 invited reviews for scientific journals, and authored/edited 19 books. She has served on the editorial boards of the FASEB Journal, the Journal of Nutrition, Biochemistry Archives, Nutrition Research, Nutrition Today, and the International Journal of Diabetes Research.

The author has no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Correspondence: Carolyn D. Berdanier, PhD, 802 Timbercrest Trail, Valencia, PA 16059 (

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