Riboflavin (B2-G) And Niacin (Nicotinic Acid)
( Originally Published 1930's )
The Damon and Pythias of the vitamin family are B2 and Niacin. In nearly all the deficiency diseases of the animal world, these two work hand in hand for restoration to normal conditions. The lack of either factor will cause similar conditions of systemic deficiency. In fact, these two are so closely associated in food values that it would be almost impossible to feed an experimental animal in a manner which would deprive it of just one factor, or the other.
It is true that isolated B2, and isolated Niacin have been given separately in certain disease conditions with excellent results. How-ever, they seem to be interchangable and perhaps one takes the place of the other. If a little niacin is present, a larger amount of B2 will clear up a certain condition of the system. Similarly, if a small amount of B2 is present, a large amount of niacin will do the same thing.
Pellagra is the disease most surely showing a deficiency of these twin B vitamins. In fact, pellagra can not rightfully be called a disease. It is a genuine food deficiency. Formerly, it was thought to be associated with fever infections. However, it has been found a food deficiency which has been a long time showing up, and infections just hastened its appearance.
Pellagra effects the system from three different angles; the skin, the digestion, and the nervous system. It may first cause a weakness of the extremities, particularly the legs; also a loss in weight. But, when the skin becomes afflicted, it shows up in red blotches which gradually turn rough and brown. The hands, wrists, feet, and elbows will usually show attack. Later the sides of the mouth and the area surrounding the base of the nose may redden, crack, and scab. Nothing applied externally seems to heal the lesions. This is pelagra. You need the twin B's help.
The digestive system, from start to finish, resent the lack of B2 and niacin. If your tongue, throat, and roof of the mouth are more or less continually inflammed, and the ordinary antiseptic mouth wash, or throat gargle, gives no relief, keep your eyes on the watch. Should that tongue, or mouth, swell a little and develop sores, you are deficient in B2 and niacin. It may be pellagra.
This condition is found more in the Balkan countries, in Spain, Egypt, India, and the Soviet countries, where the people do not get enough to eat. However, there are some four hundred thousand cases a year in the United States. You can not live on fat pork, corn bread, white bread, butter, and potatoes, if you would keep clear of pellagra in some form. Recent experiments have proven that too much corn is antagonistic to vitamin B2 and niacin. In other words, corn seems to carry an anti-vitamin as well as a very small amount of vitamin in the form of vitamin A.
When the nervous system is attacked, the mild conditions cause headache, dizziness, and numbness of the extremeties—hands and feet, but severe deficiency causes lack of muscle control and mental co-ordination. Mental depression, hallucination, and even insanity can be caused by a continuous lack of foods containing the B twins, niacin and B2.
Those itchy, scratchy, reddened eyes; that weepy, scaly encrustation, with loss of hair, are more indications of these two B deficiencies. Sometimes B2, alone, will clear up the eye condition. Again, niacin, alone may stop the psoriasis eczema of the scalp. But, you cannot fail to aid either of these conditions if you take the twins together.
Why do you get these various conditions of the system, while other people do not? You do not live right. You have confined your eating to a much too narrow channel. Branch out. Eat a variety of food and see why God scattered the earth with a bounteous variety of food. It is all there: minerals, proteins, and vitamins are widely distributed in nature's larder. If you will only remember that what you do NOT eat hurts you, it will pay dividends in longer life, and one free from those continued irritations which finally result in the BIG ILLNESS.
To prove our contention that very few people need worry about vitamin deficiency, if they eat a variety of foods, we give you an instance of vitamin B2 deficiency and just how small an amount of B2 food will clear it up.
Albino rats were fed prepared food which contain no vitamin B2. In a very short time, they began to lose the hair of their eye lids, and the eyes became inflamed. A continuance of the deficient B2 diet caused the skin around the paws, the ears, the nose, and the mouth to redden and swell. Later, the toes dried up and began to drop off. This diet was changed by the addition of milk whey and in a very short time the skin condition returned to health; even the hair grew back. Milk contains only one part of B2 to 600,000.
You must see from the above instance that vitamins are not, and can not, be the actual food value, but that they are causative agents which enable food values in mineral, protein, fat, and carbohydrate, to become absorbed and used.
However, that tiny bit of vitamin B2 must be eaten if skin and hair are to remain healthy. That small amount of niacin must be eaten if you would retain a good digestion and absorption of the foods which you consume.
The only possible way any person may become afflicted with the condition known as pellagra, is to live upon a diet of white bread, corn bread, butter, cereals, dried beans, fat meat, and potatoes. Unfortunately, some people do just that. Those people are among the 400,000 cases of pellagra reported in the United States every year.
Any, and all, of the following foods contain enough B2 and niacin to prevent the various skin, nerve, and digestive attacks of the pellagra type:
All muscle meats