Scurvy is a disease which occurs due to the lack of vitamin C in your diet.
Vitamin C , whose chemical name is ascorbic acid, plays a vital role in the body to produce collagen. Collagen is a protein that is found in bones, blood vessels and other body tissues.
What Causes Scurvy?
Humans cannot synthesize vitamin C on their own and a deficiency of Vitamin C causes scurvy.
If the body does not get sufficient vitamin C, it cannot produce collagen, leading to the breakdown of body tissues. Vitamin C also helps in iron absorption. A deficiency of iron leads to Anemia. It also controls many other important functions like body growth, cellular functioning and formation of hormones and tissues.
Several other factors which contribute to the development of scurvy are dependency on drug or alcohol, mental health conditions like schizophrenia, depression, nausea, unhealthy diet, loss of appetite, smoking, pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Symptoms of Scurvy
Scurvy in Adults
Even though the number of people suffering from Scurvy has largely come down, poor diet or eating habits can lead to Scurvy. In an adult generally, the symptoms of scurvy include:
- Bleeding and swelling of gums
- Joint pain, particularly in legs
- Weakness or fatigue
- Red spots on skin
- Swelling in wounds
Scurvy in Infants
Children who suffer from autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are more likely to be affected by scurvy. In infants, there might be different symptoms that could help in detection of the disease, such as:
- High fever
- Loss of appetite
Diagnosis of Scurvy
The doctor can easily diagnose scurvy when he is told about the symptoms. A simple blood test that shows the level of vitamin C can also help identify the disease.
Treatment for Scurvy
Scurvy can simply be treated by consumption of vitamin C supplements, which can help patients recover from its symptoms in a couple of days. Once this condition improves, consumption of fresh vegetables and fruits is recommended to maintain the level of vitamin C. Generally it takes two weeks to fully recover from the disease.
Consumption of Vitamin C Per Day:
The intake of vitamin C is necessary in order to prevent scurvy and have a healthy lifestyle. Below is the amount of vitamin C that one must consume per day.
For men more than 18 years old is 90 milligrams of vitamin C daily; for women more than 18 years old, it is 75 milligrams daily; for pregnant women more than 18 years old, it is 85 milligrams daily; and for breastfeeding women more than 18 years old, it is 120 milligrams daily.
Sources of Vitamin C:
Fruits and vegetables are considered to be the best natural sources of vitamin C.
For example, oranges, kiwi, grapes, lemons, strawberries, sprouts, tomatoes, asparagus and cabbage contain vitamin C. It is recommended to consume these fruits and vegetables raw, as cooking can destroy their nutrients. If you prefer them cooked, then steaming veggies is recommended instead of boiling them.