Vitamin B12 crystal structure model, 1957-1959.
4 0 c m
actual image size: 26cm x 32cm

Vitamin B12 crystal structure model, 1957-1959.

© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library


This crystal structure model, made for the X-ray crystallographer Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin, shows the structure of the hexacarbocylic acid fragment of Vitamin B12. It was displayed at the Brusels Universal Exhibition ('Expo') in 1958. The full structure of this complex and large vitamin was determined by Hodgkin using X-ray crystallography in 1957, before chemists were able to work out using chemical means, and this model is a result of her work. Vitamin B12 is produced by micro-organisms in the gut. The richest natural source is raw liver. Deficiency leads to pernicious anaemia, which is the poor development of red blood cells resulting in the posible degeneration of the spinal chord. Sufferers develop extensive bruising and recover slowly from even minor injuries.

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