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pellagra(pəlăg`rə), deficiency disease due to a lack of niacin (nicotinic acid), one of the components of the B complex vitamins in the diet. Niacin is plentiful in yeast, organ meats, peanuts, and wheat germ. The disease manifests itself in lesions of the skin and mucous membrane, diarrhea and other gastrointestinal symptoms, neurological derangement, and mental confusion. It is most common in areas where the diet consists mainly of corn, which, unlike other grains, lacks niacin as well as the amino acid tryptophan, which the body uses to synthesize the vitamin. Treatment includes large doses of niacin and the institution of a proper diet to prevent recurrences.
See D. A. Roe, A Plague of Corn: A Social History of Pellagra (1973).
avitaminosis caused by a vitamin PP (nicotinic acid) deficiency. It is manifested by disorders of the skin (dermatitis, generally on the face and neck), alimentary canal (ulceration of the lingual and intestinal mucosa and impairment of gastric secretion and motility), and nervous system (polyneuritis). Treatment involves the administration of nicotinic acid, usually combined with other B-complex vitamins, and adherence to a balanced diet, which includes foods rich in the B vitamins (yeast, liver, eggs, beans) and tryptophan (milk), from which vitamin PP is synthesized in the body.