Monday, January 21, 2013

Medical Mondays: Arrr, You Scurvy Cur!


(I just love this word. Scurvy, scurvy, scurvy). 

You may have heard of it. It's a disease cause by a Vitamin C deficiency, and cured by drinking a gallon of OJ.

But let's talk a little more about this. Here, have a clementine while we chat. 

What is Vitamin C? It's a chemical, also called ascorbic acid, which is needed by the human body to make collagen.

What do humans have in common with Rodents of Unusual Size (ROUSs, or capybaras), guinea pigs, and bats? None of us can make our own Vitamin C. We need to get it from our food. Most animals and all plants can make their own Vitamin C.

Capybara. I should like to have one. (Source: Wikipedia)

What are the signs of scurvy? Malaise and tiredness, bleeding gums, bruising, petechiae (little blood freckles), poor wound healing, bloody gums, and shortness of breath.

What if I have a really, really bad case of scurvy? Swelling in the limbs, nerve problems, seizures, and death can occur. Not fun.

Can I get scurvy if I eat nothing but boxed macaroni and cheese, three times a day? Yes. Do not do this.

If you get Vitamin C from citrus fruits, then why do Eskimos never get scurvy? Because liver and fresh meat (from animals that make their own Vitamin C) provides enough to prevent scurvy.

How long have humans known about scurvy? Since ancient times. Hippocrates knew of it, as did the ancient Egyptians. 

Sailor factoid: in the 18th century, scurvy killed more sailors than were killed in combat. Long voyages with a lack of fresh fruit and meat and an abundance of preserved and cooked food (which destroyed Vitamin C) caused rampant scurvy that plagued sea voyages for centuries. Arrr, that sucks. 

From Wikipedia
So...I should eat a ton of Vitamin C, then, right? Actually, anyone reading this blog probably already eats more than the daily requirement of Vitamin C without trying. So, don't eat a crate of grapefruit every day. Be warned. There is such a thing as Vitamin C toxicity.

If you've got a fictional medical question, let me know! 

   All I ask is that you become a follower and post a link on your blog when I post your answer. This is for fictional scenarios, only. Please check out the boring but necessary disclaimer on my sidebar. :)

And don't forget . . . one week from today is the official, exclusive cover reveal of CONTROL! Yay!


Carrie Butler said...

I always learn something here. :D Thanks, Lydia!

Old Kitty said...

Vitamin C with chocolate! LOL!! I was always told they're a great combination - something about iron blah blah but with CHOCOLATE!! Yay!

SO YAY!!!! for your cover reveal to come!! Yay!! Take care

Shelly said...

My inner voice will be speaking in pirate all day now, thanks to scurvy floating around in my head. Very informative- did not know so few of us in this world make our own Vit. C~

Jessica Bell said...

I remember reading about scury in primary school. I was absolutely FASCINATED by it.

On another note, I drink the juice of one lemon every single morning in warm water due to being told that it cleanse my body of toxins. I hope that's true. ???

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Doesn't sound fun.
And you slipped in a Princess Bride reference - good for you!

Natalie Aguirre said...

Okay, I'm really glad we don't need to eat meat to get enough Vitamin C. Thanks for all the info and can't wait to see your cover.

B.E. Sanderson said...

Cool post, Lydia! I probably need to eat more C rich foods and hey, I've got strawberries. Smoothie time!

Can't wait to see your cover. Squee!

LD Masterson said...

Think I'll go have my glass of orange juice now.

Anonymous said...

Vitamin C toxicity or not, I'm eating a grapefruit this morning!

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Here's another little known fact: Arctic explorer Sir John Franklin brought newly invented canned goods on his expedition to combat scurvy. Unfortunately, many of his crew died of botulism. :(

Elizabeth Seckman said...

So , those people who say to flood the body with vit C to flush out cancer causing free radicals is not good advice? (which is why I always chat with my doc before taking online health advice!)

And can't wait to see the cover!

Barbara Watson said...

I never realized most animals produce their own Vitamin C! Although I've often wondered how my dog makes it on two meals of the same food, day after day.

A Lady's Life said...

Amazing thing about scurvy.
One would think reading historical documents, people on board ships would have canned citrus for long journeys.Man is a delicate creature after all.

Clarissa Draper said...

When I think scurvy, I always think of pirates. A very informative post.

Anonymous said...

But...but...I love mac and cheese!! :(


Looking forward to the CONTROL cover reveal.

Casey L. Clark said...

ROUS! Love it! :) Great post!

JEFritz said...

I remember reading that they figured out citrus fruit cures scurvy centuries and centuries ago, then forgot about it and millions died from it. You'd think somebody would write down something like that.

I wish I had a capybara...

Linda Gray said...

Most animals can make their own C??? Wow, I had no idea, and feel much more empathy with rodents, guinea pigs and bats! Huh.

Anonymous said...

I remember learning about scurvy in middle school. With a name like that, how could I forget?

Love your Medical Mondays!

Karen Lange said...

My mom used to joke about how she'd prevent scurvy for my sisters and me by keeping fruit around. Apparently it worked, we never got it! :)

alexia said...

Nice Princess Bride reference :) And Vitamin C is very much on my mind these days since I'm getting over a cold.

Can't wait for the cover reveal!

Peggy Eddleman said...

True story-- for a long time I thought scurvy was an STD. Come on! Scurvy? Totally STD-sounding name! It wasn't until I was watching a toddler show with my toddler nephew when I was a teenager, and little toddler pirates were singing about scurvy and I went WHAT?! What the heck are they teaching these kids?! And then I asked someone who obviously knew more than me.

I can't wait for your cover reveal!

LTM said...

Arrrgh!!! You should've saved this one for national Talk Like a Pirate Day, matey! :D

You know, I didn't know you could get too much Vitamin C! Good to know!

Hope you're doing grrreat! :D <3

Deb Salisbury said...

How cool! I didn't know half of that about scurvy. Your posts are always fascinating.

nutschell said...

Scurvy is a fun word to say aloud--not such a fun thing to have though. Love learning new things!


Anonymous said...

Since Vitamin C produces collagen, one would reason that downing eleventy gallons of orange juice would shore up the skin on my face that seems to want to hang out around my knees these days. Darn that vitamin C toxicity!

Kelly Polark said...

Arrgh! Glad I don't have scurvy!

But it is a fun word. And I've been taking extra C in this flu ridden season.

Slamdunk said...

We went through a pirate phase with the older kid awhile back so I actually felt educated about your topic of scurvy--for once that is.

Enjoy your week Dr.

SA Larsenッ said...

For some odd reason, I'm all over this word, too! It has a rawness, even crass feeling to it.

Can't wait for your reveal!!!

Southpaw said...

My neighbor just gave me some honeybells (tangelos). It's the most mellow citrus fruit I think I've ever had.

Krispy said...

As with most things, moderation is best, right? I too like the word itself. It's delightfully tactile.

Connie Keller said...

Wow, I never knew that most animals make their own vitamin C. So then, they can never be scurvy knaves. (Sorry, I couldn't help myself.)

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