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FO O D


Numol Body Builder jar


Gevral bottles


Gevral bottles Glass and plastic Lederle Laboratories, American Cyanamid Co., 1960–70 RRa0295 / L0075843 Wellcome Images


Numol Body Builder jar Ceramic Numol, 20th century RRa0300 / L0075849 Wellcome Images


This jar is emblazoned with the phrase ‘Lecithin Food’, a reference to the naturally occurring sub- stance lecithin, which can be found in soy beans, sunflower seeds and egg yolk. Non-toxic, with a wide range of applications, lecithin is frequently added to powdered food to make it dissolve more easily, to margarine to improve its spreadability, or to chocolate to reduce the amount of costly cocoa butter content. Lecithin is also a major constituent of human


cell membranes, which leads to claims that it should be taken as a food supplement. However, lecithin is produced naturally by a healthy liver and, if consumed, is broken down in the intestine before most of it has a chance to reach the body’s tissues.


Each of the 100 capsules in one of these bottles was packed with 14 vitamins and 11 minerals. Gevral’s ‘vitamin-mineral-nutritional’ dietary supplements were marketed ‘for the entire family’.


Receiving ‘full benefi t’


As New York Commissioner of Health, Ernst J Lederle (1865–1921) organised the vaccination of 800 000 people during an epidemic of smallpox and promoted the pasteurisation of milk to prevent the spread of tuberculosis. After he fell out of favour with local politicians in 1903, he formed Lederle Lab- oratories for ‘chemical, bacteriological and sanitary analysis’. The company went on to manufacture vac- cines, vitamins, antibiotics and sterile blood plasma. In 1949, Lederle Laboratories developed


a process for manufacturing soft gelatin capsules filled with dry powders or liquids. This promised, so the marketing claimed, ‘better absorption and relative freedom from unpleasant aftertaste’, ensuring patients received ‘the full benefit from the potency’.


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