Man instinctively, since the dawn of civilization, recognizes the need for some dietary principles are useful for its well-being. For example, Chinese medical texts belonging to 2700 BC describe the first observations on beriberi.

More recently, towards the end of the 800, Dr. Takaki (doctor Japanese Navy), defines beriberi related to inadequate diets. In this connection, more or less the same time, Eijkman (doctor of the Dutch East Indies) ascertained as chickens fed with rice left over from the meal of the prisoners, they showed ataxia similar to that of the prisoners themselves. So that rice was lacking something.

Funk discovered the substance that can quickly cure the sick, now known as thiamine or vitamin B1, belonging to the group of amines.

To represent its two basic characteristics (chemical origin and health properties), Funk coined the term “amine of life” or, more briefly, vitamin.

Later, for his ability to cure beriberi, the substance became known as vitamin B.