Vitamin B Complex
Beriberi is a disease that affects the nervous, cardiovascular, and gastroin-testinal systems. The legs feel heavy, the feet burn, and the muscles degener-ate. The patient is irritable and suffers from headaches, depression, anorexia, constipation, tachycardia (rapid heart rate), edema, and heart failure.
Toward the end of the nineteenth century, a doctor in Indonesia discovered that chickens that were fed table scraps of polished rice developed symptoms much like those of his patients suffering from beriberi. When these same chickens were later fed brown (unpolished) rice, they recovered.
Some years later, this mysterious component of unpolished rice was rec-ognized as an essential food substance and was named vitamin B. Subsequently, it was named vitamin B complex because the vitamin was found to be composed of several compounds. The B-complex vitamins are listed in Table 7-1.