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Vitamin C And Scurvy

Updated: Jan 1, 2022

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) was discovered after many sailors fell ill with scurvy. James Lind discovered that these travelers did not suffer from this disease when they drank lemon juice in the 18th century. They did not consume enough fruits and vegetables on their travels. Later, in 1931, vitamin C was isolated by scientist Albert Szent-Gyorgyi (Futura Sciences). Today, scurvy is associated with poverty, malnutrition, as well as alcoholism. Most recently, at Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital in Montreal, 2 cases of scurvy were reported (Radio-Canada, February 2021). There is nothing to be alarmed about. This text explains why we need vitamin C, our needs, deficiency, and supplementation.

Why Do We Need It?

Vitamin C helps in the formation and repair of skin, connective tissue and bone. Also, it is essential for blood vessels and healthy teeth, helps iron absorption, helps healing, etc. (Johnson, L.E., 2019).

How Much Vitamin C Per Day?

Needs vary with age, biological sex, genetics, etc. The table below is taken from Dietitians of Canada. Men, 19 years and older, need 90 mg per day and women of the same age need 75 mg per day. Half a red pepper meets 100% vitamin C needs (Dietitians of Canada).


Chronic vitamin C deficiency in the diet can cause scurvy. Usually, the signs of this disease start after 3 months of deficiency. This disease is characterized by weakness, hemorrhage, anemia, dental problems such as gingivitis and decay, chest pain, etc. If this disease is left untreated it can cause death (Healthline).


With a balanced diet, it is not necessary to take vitamin C supplements. The needs are largely met with certain fruits and vegetables. It is found in peppers, kiwis, strawberries, oranges, mangoes, tomatoes, broccoli, etc. On the other hand, if you're not eating any fruits and vegetables, it's not just vitamin C to worry about. Don't worry if you don't eat fruit and vegetables occasionally! (Healthline)


This disease is serious, but can be prevented with vitamin C! On the other hand, with a balanced diet, one should certainly not worry about developing a deficiency and vitamin C supplements are not necessary. Today, cases of scurvy are very rare and are associated with chronic malnutrition, poverty and alcoholism.

To help you find or regain a balance in your diet, contact me!

Karine Drouin RD



Futura Sciences. (n.d.). Vitamine C. Retrouvé le 28 Février 2021 au

Dadgar, K., Neary, J. (2020). Clinical Profile of Scurvy in Hamilton Since 2009: a Cohort Study. Journal of General Internal Medicine. Doi: 10.1007/s11606-020-05636-1

Healthline. (n.d.). What Is Scurvy? Retrouvé le 1er mars 2021 au

Les diététistes du Canada. (Mars, 2019). Ce que vous devez savoir au sujet de la vitamine C. Retrouvé le 1er mars 2021 au

Radio Canada (Février, 2021). Deux cas de scorbut traités en un mois à Montréal. Retrouvé le 1er mars 2021 au

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