A Blog by Carl Zimmer

Vitamins: The First Four Billion Years

Vitamins are one of those features of life that we take for granted. For some odd reason, we must obtain trace amounts of a dozen or so tiny molecules, or we will get very, very sick. To understand why this is so, you have to look back at the history of vitamins. And that history stretches back pretty much to the origin of life, a history whose traces we can see in our own DNA, and one that has shaped the balance of nature. For more, check out my feature in tomorrow’s New York Times (I’ll have more to add in my “Matter” column for the Times on Thursday).

4 thoughts on “Vitamins: The First Four Billion Years

  1. Very cool article. Neat to learn all that about vitamins themselves.

    I’m left with one burning question, though: what’s up with their names? Why A, B(s!), C, D, E … K? Why so many Bs, but with some numbers skipped?

    (I’m not suggesting that the NYT story should have included the story of vitamin names, as that obviously wasn’t what it was about. The science was great. Just saying that that was the question I was left with. I’m sure I can google it, after all.)

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