The Simplest Cure
The Simplest Cure
Even though it’s a rare disease today, for centuries scurvy plagued humans by causing aching pain, bleeding gums, teeth to fall out, and even death. Long ago, sailors and explorers were particularly hard hit by scurvy since their rations didn’t include fresh fruits and vegetables.Writings detailing the disease exist from as long ago as 1500 B.C., and back then no one knew what caused scurvy, or how to cure it.
All that changed in 1747, when the Scottish scientist James Lind proved that eating citrus fruits cures scurvy. It took many years to discover and isolate the key chemical. However, we now know that lemons and oranges are great sources for the key chemical known as Vitamin C. But why? What is it about Vitamin C that fixes scurvy so quickly and completely?
Well, let’s look at what happens when someone is deprived of Vitamin C and scurvy takes hold. The most abundant protein in the human body is collagen, and it fills in the gaps in our body as connective tissue between our bones, muscles, and blood vessels. Vitamin C is a major co-enzyme required for collagen formation.1
So, without Vitamin C, you can’t make collagen. This is actually quite rare in the animal kingdom. Many animals are able to synthesize their own Vitamin C, just like we are capable of producing Vitamin D. Strangely, we share that distinction with fruit-eating bats, guinea pigs, and tarsiers. Somewhere along the evolutionary line, humans and these other species lost the ability to make their own Vitamin C.2
As a result, we must take in Vitamin C in order to make our connective tissue. Vitamin C is also important to make other important compounds that we can’t make ourselves. These essential nutrients, or nutrients we require that we can not make ourselves, include thyroid hormone, steroid hormones, bile salts, serotonin, and parts of the DNA molecule. Suddenly, Vitamin C‘s importance resolves into full focus once we realize that Vitamin C isn’t just for collagen, but a host of other requirements as well!3
One of the more important discoveries is that Vitamin C is also involved in our immune system, and studies have shown that Vitamin C can reduce the duration of a common cold.4 Common cold remedies almost always include Vitamin C as a major ingredient, and for good reason!
- Chili peppers
Or, if you’re not a big fan of citrus fruits or allergic to oranges and lemons like I am, Vivioptal supplements are a great alternative to keep your body strong and your immune system healthy.
1) 1) Insel P, Turner RE, Ross D. Discovering Nutrition. 3rd ed. Jones and Bartlett, Sudbury Massachusetts. pp 358-361.
4) Douglas RM, Hemila H, Chalker E, Treacy B. Vitamin C for preventing and treating the common cold. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2007 Jul 18;(3):CD000980