Pellagra, symptoms and history of its spread in Italy. Facts and information on vitamin PP deficiency.
The conditions of well-being of our country make today thepellagraa very rare disease. This disease is caused by the deficiency of vitamin PP, also known as Vitamin B3 or niacin. With the termniacinit refers to two chemically similar molecules, thenicotinic acid and nicotinamide (which is the amide of nicotinic acid). Nicotinamide is a fundamental component of two coenzyme molecules:
- nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD)
- nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADP)
NAD is involved in all the redox reactions of our organism. Its phosphate form (NADP) is also fundamental. These coenzymes bind transiently or permanently to certain enzymes so as to activate or inhibit a large number of reactions within the cell. A few examples? Glycolysis, the Krebs cycle, the biosynthesis of fatty acids… In our body there are more than 200 enzymes that catalyze reactions thanks to NAD. For all information on theniacinI refer you to the pageVitamin PP.
Pellagra is a disease characterized by severalsymptomsand pathological manifestations. The first symptomsthey see inflammation of the mouth and tongue. The language, in some cases (as also happens with the pellagra of the dog) takes on a blackish color.
Among others symptomsinclude skin irritations that became dry (skin - agra, hence the name) and peeled heavily. Peeling occurs mainly in areas of the skin exposed to the sun. They are not missing symptoms to the digestive system (diarrhea and ulcers of the intestinal system) and, in more serious cases, to the nervous system which lead to a real madness. TherehistoryItalian is rich in pellagra patients, in fact, in the past, asylums were full of poor patients suffering from this vitamin deficiency.
In Italy, the pellagrahas a historyvery dramatic that saw, in the first instance, a relentless attack on foods such aspolenta.
In 1881, over 100,000 were registered in our country cases of pellagra, a disease that resolved itself with the improvement of the economic conditions of the poorest strata of the population and, not only, also the discovery of vitaminsplayed its part in defeating thepellagra. The Italian health history reports a sharp decline in cases of pellagra: there were a few more than 2,000 in 1910 and a few dozen in 1923.
Pellagra and polenta
At the end of the 19th century the importance of vitamins was still unknown, so the blame for the spread of pellagra. The evidence was clear: those who feed mainly onpolentadeveloped this disease. In reality, this disease was widespread among the poor strata of society and among farmers who ate mainly with polenta ... The faults, therefore, were not of polenta but of a lack of variety in the diet that was free of cereals and meats, rich foods of niacin.
In short, the fault was not the polenta, but the fact that poor people almost never ate bread or pasta and only rarely was their polenta accompanied by sufcient quantities of foods (such as meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, brewer's yeast). ra, legumes, etc.) that could raise and complete the nutritional quality.
If in Italy thepellagrawas associated with the consumption ofpolenta, in Asia it was associated with excessive rice consumption. In Japan, to counter thevitamin PP deficiencya type of buckwheat-based pasta began to spread, currently also famous in Italy with the name of soba. Soba and, in general, buckwheat, are an excellent source of vitamin B3 (niacin or vitamin PP). For all the information, I refer you to the page: soba, what is it.
Foods rich in vitamin PP
Among the foods richest in vitamin PP we point out brewer's yeast, meats, buckwheat and some cereals.