Food Chemistry and Nutrition
The discovery of vitamins beginning in the early 20th century contributed significantly to our knowledge of proper nutrition and to the fight against diseases of malnutrition. Chemistry played a vital role in that, and it also helps farmers understand their crops and nutritionists develop healthy diets.
Sugar in moderation is a good source of energy for the human body. At the end of the 19th century Rachel Lloyd helped introduce Americans to a new sweetener, beet sugar. She was also the first American woman to earn a Ph.D. in chemistry.
In 1928 Albert Szent-Györgyi isolated a substance he initially called “hexuronic acid,” which turned out to be vitamin C. Oddly enough, his main scientific interest was not vitamins but rather the chemistry of cellular metabolism.
Robert R. Williams pressed his wife’s washing machine into service as a centrifuge to begin his research on the molecular structure of vitamin B1.
In the 1930s Gladys L. A. Emerson, a nutritionist and biochemist, isolated vitamin E, an essential nutrient. She then went on to work on the whole B complex of vitamins.
While bacteria are often considered the enemy to be conquered in medicine and in food production, Allene Jeanes used bacteria to make beneficial substances for use in both these areas.
Cecile Hoover Edwards devised protein-rich vegetarian diets based on her chemical investigations. She also designed well-balanced, nutritious, and affordable diets for low-income families.