Vitamins and history

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 49, No. 9, November 2007, Page 473 Letters

It was with great interest that I read your article on vitamins C, D, and E in the July/August BCMJ. I agree with your conclusions. However, the saga regarding D and E began over 60 years ago. I was a junior intern at Victoria Hospital in London, Ontario, in 1947 when the London Free Press came out with headlines proclaiming the benefit of E in coronary artery disease as espoused by Evan Shute and Art Vogelsang. Our Department of Medicine decided to look into this and began a clinical trial on two wards. The advice from Dr Shute was to discontinue digitalis and start E in his prescribed manner on the selected cardiac patients. The trial was short-lived as most of the patients’ clinical status worsened. Regardless, the Shute Institute was established for the treatment of cardiac and other entities later in the 1940s and still exists.

Vitamin D in megadoses was used for a time in the 1940s in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (see Hollander’s textbook on arthritis, 1949 or later editions). The product was called “Ertron.” I believe it was abandoned when it was found to cause extraneous calcification more seriously in the kidneys.
It is fascinating how history repeats itself.

—Charles Y. Brown, MD

Charles Y. Brown, MD. Vitamins and history. BCMJ, Vol. 49, No. 9, November, 2007, Page(s) 473 - Letters.

Above is the information needed to cite this article in your paper or presentation. The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) recommends the following citation style, which is the now nearly universally accepted citation style for scientific papers:
Halpern SD, Ubel PA, Caplan AL, Marion DW, Palmer AM, Schiding JK, et al. Solid-organ transplantation in HIV-infected patients. N Engl J Med. 2002;347:284-7.

About the ICMJE and citation styles

The ICMJE is small group of editors of general medical journals who first met informally in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1978 to establish guidelines for the format of manuscripts submitted to their journals. The group became known as the Vancouver Group. Its requirements for manuscripts, including formats for bibliographic references developed by the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM), were first published in 1979. The Vancouver Group expanded and evolved into the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), which meets annually. The ICMJE created the Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals to help authors and editors create and distribute accurate, clear, easily accessible reports of biomedical studies.

An alternate version of ICMJE style is to additionally list the month an issue number, but since most journals use continuous pagination, the shorter form provides sufficient information to locate the reference. The NLM now lists all authors.

BCMJ standard citation style is a slight modification of the ICMJE/NLM style, as follows:

  • Only the first three authors are listed, followed by "et al."
  • There is no period after the journal name.
  • Page numbers are not abbreviated.

For more information on the ICMJE Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals, visit

BCMJ Guidelines for Authors

Leave a Reply