Maize contains the vitamin niacin, but not in a form the body can absorb. Pellagra is a disease that results from niacin deficiency. When maize was introduced into southern Europe from the Americas in the eighteenth century, it quickly became a dietary staple, and many Europeans who came to subsist primarily on maize developed pellagra. Pellagra was virtually unknown at that time in the Americas, however, even among people who subsisted primarily on maize.
Which of the following, if true, most helps to explain the contrasting incidence of pellagra described above?