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What are Scurvy and Its Symptoms?
The term scurvy has been used to define a disease, which results from a deficiency of vitamin C. This vitamin is required for the synthesis of collagen in humans and hence ascorbic acid, the chemical name for vitamin C has been derived from the Latin name of scurvy, called scorbutus. Basically scurvy leads to the formation of spots on the skin and also leads to spongy gums and bleeding from the mucous membranes, which are also the main symptoms of the disease. It has been seen that in some extreme cases, these spots are abundant on the thighs and legs. Other related symptoms of scurvy include a pale look on the face of the patient along with the feeling of depression. The patient would also be partially immobilized in cases of advanced scurvy, which are followed by open wounds and loss of teeth.

History of Scurvy:
The disease had been common among sailors, pirates and others workers on ships, who would be at sea for a very long time. These workers would be deprived of fruits and vegetables and were separated from these foods for extended periods. This ailment does not occur in most animals since they are able to synthesize their own vitamin C. However humans and other primates along with guinea pigs lack the enzyme necessary for such synthesis. Hence such organisms need to obtain vitamin C through their diet, which is available in high concentrations occurring in citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, limes, and tomatoes, potatoes, cabbages, and green peppers.

The Causes of Scurvy:
Basically the main cause of scurvy is the total abstinence from fresh vegetable food, and greens. This has often been termed as the primary cause of the disease and the cure for the same is consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables as a cure. Earlier citrus juices like lemon or lime juice would be added to the recipe of the traditional daily ration to ensure the avoidance of this disease.

Prevention and Treatment of Scurvy:

Natural and Home Made: The best prevention and treatment for scurvy is the inclusion of ascorbic acid or Vitamin C in the food. This is the only food substance needed by humans for preventing this disease, which occurs in the gums, bones, and blood vessels. Through these fruits the body’s resistance to infection can be increased and the disease can be avoided all together. Basically the ascorbic acid acts as an antioxidant and neutralizes the tissue-damaging effects of substances in the environment. These damaging tissues are known as free radicals and lead to scurvy. The best treatments for this disease can be availed at the Apollo hospital along with NIHAMS. But it should be remembered that prevention of this disease is better than cure and hence you should ensure consumption of ample citrus fruits along with vegetables that contain vitamin C. This will ensure that you have a balanced diet and would also help you to improve your overall immunity level and capacity to fight against different diseases.

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