Companion to Day Firty-One: Scurvy

We practised sword work below decks, out of sight of the people we spied on. Their guards were fat and sleepy, and the houses left unlocked.

Oldy didn’t speak to me, but I knew he was ready. And I knew he was more than he seemed. He frightened me more than Sol – who scared me too.

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Sadly, scurvy doesn’t feature in this story. It does, however, often feature in real life – not so much as sea, but at university. Impoverished uni students choose alcohol (or whatever) over vegetables and, after a period of some weeks, they get scurvy. I’m pretty sure I’ve had it myself (I immediately ate some vitamin Cs and the symptoms disappeared). I think I was spending about $5 a week on food at that time.

The symptoms of scurvy are basically extreme exhaustion/weakness, teeth falling out, and death.

Fun fact: if you happen to be stranded at sea with no hope of vegies, lemons, vitamin Cs, sauerkraut, etc – eat the rats. Unlike humans, rats naturally produce vitamin C.

One thought on “Companion to Day Firty-One: Scurvy

  1. The fact that Lemon Juice could cure the symptoms of Scurvy was first observed by the Scottish Doctor James Lind in the 1750s – however, at that time, most lemons were grown by the Dutch – one of the main Imperial rivals to Britain – so, the Admiralty ordered the use of Limes instead.
    This had two effects:
    1). It gave rise to the term ‘Limeys’, and
    2). Because Limes contain much less Vitamin C than Lemons, sailors continued to die of Scurvy for more than a century…

    (Scurvy was even a problem during WWI – the link between Scury and Vitamin C was only conclusively proven in the 1930s)

    A recent study has apparently suggested that between 3-6% of the American population might be suffering from some degree of Vitamin C deficiency – but this is likely to be caused to a large extent by the apparent tendency of a highly-refined-carbohydrate diet to block Vitamin absorption.

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