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SCURVY

Scurvy (N.Lat. scorbutus) is a deficiency disease that results from insufficient intake of
vitamin C, which is required for correct collagen synthesis in humans. The scientific name of
vitamin C, ascorbic acid, is derived from the Latin name of scurvy, scorbutus. Scurvy leads to the
formation of liver spots on the skin, spongy gums, and bleeding from all mucous membranes.
The spots are most abundant on the thighs and legs, and a person with the ailment looks pale,
feels depressed, and is partially immobilized. In advanced scurvy there are open, suppurating
wounds and loss of teeth.
Scurvy was at one time common among sailors, pirates and others who were on ships that were
out to sea longer than perishable fruits and vegetables could be stored and by soldiers who were
similarly separated from these foods for extended periods. It was described by Hippocrates (c.
460 BC–c. 380 BC). Its cause and cure have been known in many native cultures since
prehistory. For example, in 1536, the French explorer Jacques Cartier, exploring the St.
Lawrence River, used the local natives' knowledge to save his men who were dying of scurvy.
He boiled the needles of the arbor vitae tree (Eastern White Cedar) to make a tea that was later
shown to contain 50 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams. However it was a Scottish surgeon in the
British Royal Navy, James Lind (1716–1794) who first proved it could be treated with citrus
fruit in experiments he described in his 1753 book, A Treatise of the Scurvy.
In infants, scurvy is sometimes referred to as Barlow's disease, named after Sir Thomas
Barlow (1845–1945), a British physician who described it. (N.B. Barlow's disease may also refer
to mitral valve prolapse.) Other eponyms include Moeller's disease and Cheadle's disease.

Symptoms
• Dark purplish spots on skin, especially legs.
• spongy gums, often leading to tooth loss.
• bleeding from all mucous membranes.
• Pallor.
• Bleeding gums.
• Sunken eyes
• Opening of healed scars and separation of knitted bone fractures.

Prognosis
Untreated scurvy is always fatal. However, since all that is required for a full recovery is
the resumption of normal vitamin C intake, death from scurvy is rare in modern times.

Pathophysiology
Normal collagen synthesis depends upon the hydroxylation of proline and lysine residues
in the endoplasmic reticulum, to form hydroxyproline and hydroxylysine, respectively. Prolyl
and lysyl hydroxylase, the enzymes that catalyze the hydroxylation, require ascorbic acid
(vitamin C) to function correctly. With no ascorbic acid, the enzymes cannot hydroxylate proline
and lysine, and so normal collagen synthesis cannot be performed.
History
Scurvy was probably first observed as a disease by Hippocrates. In the 13th century the
Crusaders suffered from scurvy frequently, and it has inflicted terrible losses on both besieged
and besieger in times of war. Scurvy was one of the limiting factors of marine travel, often
killing large numbers of the passengers and crew on long-distance voyages. It even played a
significant role in World War I.
The British civilian medical profession of 1614 knew that it was the acidic principle of citrus
fruit which was lacking, although they considered any acid as acceptable when ascorbic acid
(Vitamin C) was unavailable. In 1614 John Woodall (Surgeon General of the East India
Company) published his book "The Surgion's Mate" as a handbook for apprentice surgeons
aboard the company's ships. In it he described scurvy as resulting from a dietary deficiency. His
recommendation for its cure was fresh food or, if not available, oranges, lemons, limes and
tamarinds, or as a last resort, Oil of Vitriol (sulfuric acid).
However, it was not until 1747 that James Lind proved that scurvy could be treated and
prevented by supplementing the diet with citrus fruit such as lemons and lime. Although James
Cook succeeded in circumnavigating the world in HM Bark Endeavour without losing a single
man to scurvy, his suggested methods, including a diet of sauerkraut and wort of malt, did not
reproduce his success, and British sailors throughout the American Revolutionary period
continued to suffer from scurvy, particularly in the Channel Fleet. The eradication of scurvy from
the Royal Navy was finally due to the chairman of the Navy's Sick and Hurt Board, Gilbert
Blane, who finally put Lind's long-ignored prescription of fresh lemons to use during the
Napoleonic Wars. Other navies soon adopted this successful solution.
The plant known as "scurvy grass" acquired its name from the observation that it cured
scurvy, but this was of no great help to those who spent months at sea. During sea voyages, it
was discovered that sauerkraut was of extremely limited use in preventing scurvy. In the Royal
Navy's Arctic expeditions in the 19th century it was widely believed that scurvy was prevented
by good hygiene on board ship, regular exercise, and maintaining the morale of the crew, rather
than by a diet of fresh food, so that Navy expeditions continued to be plagued by scurvy even
while fresh meat was well-known as a practical antiscorbutic among civilian whalers and
explorers in the Arctic. At the time Robert Falcon Scott made his two expeditions to the
Antarctic in the early 20th century, the prevailing medical theory was that scurvy was caused by
"tainted" canned food. It was not until 1932 that the connection between vitamin C and scurvy
was established.
The use of limes by the Royal Navy to prevent scurvy gave rise to the name "limey" for a
British sailor, which has been since extended to all British in American slang. The name "kraut"
for a German soldier in World War II may similarly be based on the fact that the German Navy
kept sauerkraut as scurvy prevention after the Royal Navy changed to limes.
Modern incidence
Scurvy or subclinical scurvy is caused by the lack of vitamin C. In modern western
society, scurvy is rarely present in adults, although infants and elderly people are affected.
Vitamin C is destroyed by the process of pasteurization, so babies fed with ordinary bottled milk
sometimes suffer from scurvy if they are not provided with adequate vitamin supplements.
Virtually all commercially available baby formulas contain added vitamin C for this reason;
however heat and storage destroy vitamin C. Human breast milk contains sufficient vitamin C, if
the mother has an adequate intake to prevent scurvy on her own.
Scurvy is one of the accompanying diseases of malnutrition (other such micronutrient
deficiencies are beriberi or pellagra) and thus is still widespread in areas of the world depending
on external food aid. Though rare, there are also documented cases of scurvy due to poor dietary
choices by people living in industrialized nations.

Prevention
Scurvy can be prevented by a diet that includes certain citrus fruits such as oranges or
lemons. Other good sources of vitamin C are fruits such as blackcurrants, guava, kiwi, papaya,
tomatoes and strawberries. It can also be found in some vegetables, such as bell peppers,
broccoli, potatoes, cabbage, spinach and paprika, as well as some pickled vegetables. Though
redundant in the presence of a balanced diet, various nutritional supplements are available that
provide ascorbic acid well in excess of that required to prevent scurvy, and even some candies
contain vitamin C.
Inuit rarely suffered from scurvy, despite a total lack of fresh fruits or vegetables in their diet, as
their custom of eating their meat raw preserved the vitamin C that would have been lost by
cooking. Vilhjalmur Stefansson demonstrated the absence of scurvy among Eskimos in 1928.
However, Stefansson wrote in Harper's Magazine in 1935 that the Inuit's freedom from scurvy
was not due to some of their meat being eaten raw. He also wrote that "the human body needs
only such a tiny bit of Vitamin C that if you have some fresh meat in your diet every day, and
don't over cook it, there will be enough C from that source alone to prevent scurvy. If you live
exclusively on meat you get from it enough vitamins not only to prevent scurvy but as said in a
previous article, to prevent all other deficiency diseases."
Tarlac National High School
San Roque, Tarlac City
S.Y. 2007-2008

Submitted by:
Jonard M. Estacio
II- Kamagong

Submitted to:
Mrs.Eugema Kamanong
Teacher