Casimir Funk Discovered Which Vitamin In 1912

casimir funk discovered which vitamin in 1912
casimir funk discovered which vitamin in 1912

In the early 20th century, a Polish biochemist named Casimir Funk made a groundbreaking discovery that would forever change our understanding of nutrition: he identified a substance that he called a “vitamine,” which we now know as a vitamin. Funk’s discovery, made in 1912, paved the way for further research into the importance of vitamins in maintaining good health.

Understanding the Significance of Funk’s Discovery

The Journey of Casimir Funk

Casimir Funk, born in Poland in 1884, dedicated his life to unraveling the mysteries of nutrition. He was particularly interested in the idea that certain substances in food played a crucial role in preventing diseases. Funk observed that a lack of these substances, which he referred to as “vitamines” (a term derived from “vital amines”), led to specific health conditions. This observation sparked his quest to identify and understand the nature of vitamines.

Isolating the “Anti-Beriberi” Substance

Funk’s breakthrough came when he focused his attention on the disease beriberi, a condition characterized by weakness, nerve damage, and heart problems. He hypothesized that the cause of beriberi was a missing element in the diet, which he believed to be a vitamine. Funk set out to isolate this substance and identify its properties.

After numerous experiments, Funk successfully extracted a compound from rice husks that he believed to be the vital vitamine responsible for preventing beriberi. He named this compound “thiamine,” now known as Vitamin B1.

The Impact of Funk’s Discovery

Funk’s discovery of thiamine marked a significant milestone in the field of nutrition. It not only provided an answer to the cause of beriberi but also opened the door to further research on the role of vitamins in maintaining overall health. This groundbreaking finding led to the identification of other essential vitamins, such as Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and Vitamin E, each with its unique set of functions and benefits.

A Paradigm Shift in Health Understanding

Funk’s work highlighted the importance of vitamins in preventing deficiency-related diseases. His research not only influenced the field of biochemistry but also revolutionized medical practice. Today, we understand that vitamins play a vital role in various bodily functions, including energy production, immune system support, and cell growth and repair.


Q: What was Casimir Funk’s contribution to the field of nutrition?
A: Casimir Funk’s discovery of thiamine, also known as Vitamin B1, in 1912 revolutionized our understanding of nutrition. He paved the way for further research into the importance of vitamins in maintaining good health.

Q: How did Funk discover thiamine?
A: Funk isolated thiamine by focusing on the disease beriberi and conducting experiments on rice husks. His successful extraction of this compound led to the identification of Vitamin B1.

Q: Did Funk’s discovery have any impact on medical practices?
A: Yes, Funk’s discovery had a significant impact on medical practices. It shifted the focus to understanding the role of vitamins in preventing deficiency-related diseases, leading to a paradigm shift in healthcare.


Casimir Funk’s discovery of thiamine in 1912 marked a crucial turning point in our understanding of nutrition and the importance of vitamins. His work not only unraveled the mysteries surrounding beriberi but also laid the foundation for further research into the role of vitamins in maintaining good health. Today, we owe much of our knowledge about vitamins and their significance to Funk’s groundbreaking findings.

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