Dr. Tom Douglas Spies (September 21, 1902 in Ravenna, Texas – February 28, 1960 in New York, NY) was a distinguished American physician and medical educator. Dr. Spies was an authority in the study of nutritional diseases. In the 1930s, he contributed significantly to finding a cure for pellagra, a nutritional disease that once afflicted millions in the American South. Later, he also made a large contribution to finding cure for tropical sprue. For his efforts in elimination of pellagra, Time Magazine named him as 1938 "Man of the Year" in comprehensive science.
Member of Phi Beta Kappa, he received a B.A. degree from the University of Texas in 1923 and an M.D. from Harvard in 1927. He spent the next two years in pathology in Boston hospitals and then went to Western Reserve University to become an instructor in medicine until 1935.
Dr. Spies became assistant professor of medicine at the University of Cincinnati's College of Medicine (1935–1947). After 1947, he became an instructor at Northwestern University Medical School.
Dr. Spies was best known as a director of Nutrition Clinic at the Hillman Hospital, Birmingham, Alabama, after 1936.
He was invited to come to Birmingham in 1935 by Dr. James S. McLester, physician-in-chief of the Hillman Hospital, who was then also the President of the American Medical Association.
In 1945, he and six social workers, including Martha Hutchinson, studied the effects of daily supplementation of milk on the growth and development of malnourished children.
Dr. Spies was also appointed to Food and Nutrition Board of National Research Council in 1943, and was a consultant on tropical medicine at Washington's Army Medical School, 1945.
He labored with unremitting zeal to put thiamine, nicotinic acid, riboflavin, folic acid, vitamin B12 and thymine (5-methyl uracil)to use in clinical and preventive medicine.
In the late 1940s, Dr. Spies experimented with the use of folic acid and other vitamins in the treatment of tropical sprue, which was a deadly disease at that time; he conducted his research in Cuba and Puerto Rico. He received recognition from the Cuban and Puerto Rican governments for his efforts.
According to the American Medical Association,
Through his researches, pellagra in the southern United States and tropical sprue in Cuba and Puerto Rico have been virtually eliminated. Perhaps his greatest contribution has been his study of the dietary requirements for the preservation of tissue integrity, whereby premature aging can be prevented.
Vitamins are organic molecules that are essential to an organism in small quantities for proper metabolic function. Essential nutrients cannot be synthesized in the organism in sufficient quantities for survival, and therefore must be obtained through the diet. For example, Vitamin C can be synthesized by some species but not by others; it is not considered a vitamin in the first instance but is in the second. Most vitamins are not single molecules, but groups of related molecules called vitamers. For example, there are eight vitamers of vitamin E: four tocopherols and four tocotrienols.
Niacin, also known as nicotinic acid, is an organic compound and a vitamer of vitamin B3, an essential human nutrient. It can be manufactured by plants and animals from the amino acid tryptophan. Niacin is obtained in the diet from a variety of whole and processed foods, with highest contents in fortified packaged foods, meat, poultry, red fish such as tuna and salmon, lesser amounts in nuts, legumes and seeds. Niacin as a dietary supplement is used to treat pellagra, a disease caused by niacin deficiency. Signs and symptoms of pellagra include skin and mouth lesions, anemia, headaches, and tiredness. Many countries mandate its addition to wheat flour or other food grains, thereby reducing the risk of pellagra.
Folate, also known as vitamin B9 and folacin, is one of the B vitamins. Manufactured folic acid, which is converted into folate by the body, is used as a dietary supplement and in food fortification as it is more stable during processing and storage. Folate is required for the body to make DNA and RNA and metabolise amino acids necessary for cell division. As humans cannot make folate, it is required in the diet, making it an essential nutrient. It occurs naturally in many foods. The recommended adult daily intake of folate in the U.S. is 400 micrograms from foods or dietary supplements.
Pellagra is a disease caused by a lack of the vitamin niacin (vitamin B3). Symptoms include inflamed skin, diarrhea, dementia, and sores in the mouth. Areas of the skin exposed to either sunlight or friction are typically affected first. Over time affected skin may become darker, stiffen, peel, or bleed.
B vitamins are a class of water-soluble vitamins that play important roles in cell metabolism and synthesis of red blood cells. Though these vitamins share similar names (B1, B2, B3, etc.), they are chemically distinct compounds that often coexist in the same foods. In general, dietary supplements containing all eight are referred to as a vitamin B complex. Individual B vitamin supplements are referred to by the specific number or name of each vitamin, such as B1 for thiamine, B2 for riboflavin, and B3 for niacin. Some are more commonly recognized by name than by number, for example pantothenic acid, biotin, and folate.
Malabsorption is a state arising from abnormality in absorption of food nutrients across the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Impairment can be of single or multiple nutrients depending on the abnormality. This may lead to malnutrition and a variety of anaemias.
Tropical sprue is a malabsorption disease commonly found in tropical regions, marked with abnormal flattening of the villi and inflammation of the lining of the small intestine. It differs significantly from coeliac sprue. It appears to be a more severe form of environmental enteropathy.
Joseph Goldberger was an American physician and epidemiologist in the United States Public Health Service (PHS). As a public health official, he was an advocate for scientific and social recognition of the links between poverty and disease. His early work with arriving immigrants at Ellis Island made him a standout investigator for detecting infectious diseases and he became a well-known epidemiologist.
Zeism is any condition attributed to excessive use of maize (corn) in the diet, such as pellagra. Maize is low in zinc, niacin, and tryptophan, and the limited niacin found in maize is not absorbed in the digestive tract unless it has been treated with alkalis, as in the preparation of tortillas. A type of pellagra attributed to amino acid imbalance is common in India among people who eat a millet with a high leucine content. The deficiencies are usually seasonal.
Food fortification or enrichment is the process of adding micronutrients to food. It can be carried out by food manufacturers, or by governments as a public health policy which aims to reduce the number of people with dietary deficiencies within a population. The predominant diet within a region can lack particular nutrients due to the local soil or from inherent deficiencies within the staple foods; the addition of micronutrients to staples and condiments can prevent large-scale deficiency diseases in these cases.
Folate deficiency, also known as vitamin B9 deficiency, is a low level of folate and derivatives in the body. Signs of folate deficiency are often subtle. A low number of red blood cells (anemia) is a late finding in folate deficiency and folate deficiency anemia is the term given for this medical condition. It is characterized by the appearance of large-sized, abnormal red blood cells (megaloblasts), which form when there are inadequate stores of folic acid within the body.
William Bosworth Castle was an American physician and physiologist who transformed hematology from a "descriptive art to a dynamic interdisciplinary science."
Edward Bright Vedder was a U.S. Army physician, a noted researcher on deficiency diseases, and a medical educator. He studied beriberi, a deficiency disease affecting the peripheral nerves, and established an extract of rice bran as its proper treatment.
Vitamins occur in a variety of related forms known as vitamers. A vitamer of a particular vitamin is one of several related compounds that performs the functions of said vitamin and prevents the symptoms of deficiency of said vitamin.
Nutritional neuroscience is the scientific discipline that studies the effects various components of the diet such as minerals, vitamins, protein, carbohydrates, fats, dietary supplements, synthetic hormones, and food additives have on neurochemistry, neurobiology, behavior, and cognition.
Victor Herbert was an American hematologist who did ground-breaking work on folate and how its deficiency led to megaloblastic anemia and was a proponent of accurate and responsible nutrition information.
Dr. Ramón M. Suárez Calderón (1895–1981) was a scientist, cardiologist, educator and hematologíst whose investigations led him to identify the proper and effective treatment of a specific disease known as tropical sprue. He also refined the protocols for numerous diagnostic procedures, such as electrocardiography and radioisotope, for the clinical identification and treatment of the disease which causes heart rheumatism.
Relatively speaking, the brain consumes an immense amount of energy in comparison to the rest of the body. The mechanisms involved in the transfer of energy from foods to neurons are likely to be fundamental to the control of brain function. Human bodily processes, including the brain, all require both macronutrients, as well as micronutrients.
Vitamin B3, colloquially referred to as niacin, is a vitamin family that includes three forms or vitamers: niacin (nicotinic acid), nicotinamide (niacinamide), and nicotinamide riboside. All three forms of vitamin B3 are converted within the body to nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD). NAD is required for human life and people are unable to make it within their bodies without either vitamin B3 or tryptophan. Nicotinamide riboside was identified as a form of vitamin B3 in 2004.
Grace Arabell Goldsmith was a U.S. physician best known for her research on nutritional deficiency diseases, B-complex vitamins, and the vitamin enrichment of foods. She identified the cause of the disease pellagra.