Pellagra

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Dictionary Meaning and Definition on 'Pellagra'

Pellagra Meaning and Definition from WordNet (r) 2.0
    pellagra n : a disease caused by deficiency of niacin or tryptophan (or by a defect in the metabolic conversion of tryptophan to niacin); characterized by gastrointestinal disturbances and erythema and nervous or mental disorders; may be caused by malnutrition or alcoholism or other nutritional impairments [syn: Alpine scurvy, mal de la rosa, mal rosso, maidism, mayidism, Saint Ignatius' itch]
Pellagra Meaning and Definition from Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)
    Pellagra \Pel"la*gra\ (p[e^]l"l[.a]*gr[.a]), n. (Med.) An erythematous affection of the skin, with severe constitutional and nervous symptoms, endemic in Northern Italy.
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Wikipedia Meaning and Definition on 'Pellagra'


Pellagra is a vitamin deficiency disease most commonly caused by a chronic lack of niacin (vitamin B3) in the diet. It can be caused by decreased intake of niacin or tryptophan,

The traditional food preparation method of corn (maize), nixtamalization, by native New World cultivators who had domesticated corn required treatment of the grain with lime, an alkali. It has now been shown that the lime treatment makes niacin nutritionally available and reduces the chance of developing pellagra. When corn cultivation was adopted worldwide, this preparation method was not accepted because the benefit was not understood. The original cultivators, often heavily dependent on corn, did not suffer from pellagra. Pellagra became common only when corn became a staple that was eaten without the traditional treatment.

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