Marmite and its side-effects

Britain is trying to come to terms with the launch of extra-strong Marmite, but it seems the original born-in-Blighty foodstuff with a whiff-of-superhero-comic-book name is more than just a condiment. Marmite, together with its younger, Australian kinsman Vegemite, is an ongoing biomedical experiment.

Streaky dabs of information appear here and there, spread thin, on the pages of medical journals dating back as far as 1931.

The 30s were a sort of golden period for Marmite. A steady diet of Marmite reports oozed deliciously from several medical journals. Likely many physicians ingested them whilst munching Marmite on toast.

Dr Alexander Goodall of the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh regaled readers of The Lancet with a case report called The Treatment of Pernicious Anæmia by Marmite. Goodall told how a British Medical Journal article, published the previous year, had inspired him and benefited his patients…

So begins this week’s Improbable Research column in The Guardian.

BONUS: The Guardian is conducting (in connection with this column) a poll about Marmite — “love it or hate it?”

BONUS: A Guardian reader commented of this article: “You learn so much reading the Guardian. Had I not read this article I would never have know that the British Medical Journal published advice against mothers putting Marmite on their nipples. I will let my wife know as soon as possible.”