Scurvy is more complicated than we think, Acetic acid, citric acid, lactic acid, insulin

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We are taught that scurvy is a simple ascorbic acid (Vit C) deficiency.  This is disingenuous.  As much as we love the ideas of "vitamins" being completely essential for our life, nature just doesn't work that way.  There are always alternatives that work.

In the case of vitamin C, it is an important antioxidant.  But also other similar antioxidants can work to stave off scurvy.  Supplemental insulin can stop scurvy, likely because glucose can be converted to glucoronolactone which can be converted into ascorbic acid, yes humans can make it.  Also the body ramps up citric acid production during scurvy since citric acid is also a antioxidant.  Romans knew that vinegar could prevent scurvy as acetic acid is an antioxidant much like ascorbic acid.  Lactic acid probably also could be a replacement for ascorbic and I would guess the body might upregulate it in scurvy as well. EDIT: Yup I was right lactic acid is upregulated during scurvy.

Anyway when you are told something is simple and cut and dry in biology you should find that funny.  Biology and nature is complex and there is always more than one way to skin a cat.


romans believed (rightly) that acetic acid prevents scurvy


lactic acid upregulated

scurvy in smokers and diabetes


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