St. Jerome and Vitamin A


THE following passage, taken from St. Jerome's "Life of St. Hilarion", which was written about A.D. 392, appears to be the earliest account of the etiology, symptoms and cure of severe vitamin A deficiency. "From his thirty-first to his thirty-fifth year he had for food six ounces of barley bread, and vegetables slightly cooked without oil. But finding that his eyes were growing dim, and that his whole body was shrivelled with an eruption and a sort of stony roughness (impetigine et pumicea quadam scabredine) he added oil to his former food, and up to the sixty-third year of his life followed this temperate course, tasting neither fruit nor pulse, nor anything whatsoever besides."

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    Frazier, C. N., and Hu, C. K., Arch. Dermat. and Syph., 33, 825 (1936)

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