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Date :14/05/2015

In 1497 when Vasco da Gama sailed round the Cape of Good Hope, 100 out of his 160 men died of a strange disease. Nearly 300 years later it was discovered that prolonged consumption of a diet devoid of fresh fruit and vegetables was what caused it! Scurvy, which results from vitamin C deficiency, has been known since the time of the Ebers papyrus in Egypt (1500 BC). British sailors in the 19th century were referred to as ‘limeys’ because of their consumption of citrus fruits to prevent scurvy while on long voyages. Vitamin C is essential for healthy gums, is required for healing of wounds besides being necessary for a number of metabolic processes in the body. All the more reason to have your fruit, and eat it too!

Dietary sources:

Man, unlike several animals, is unable to produce vitamin C in the body. So, that makes it very important that we derive our daily requirement from our diet. Vitamin C is found aplenty in oranges and other citrus fruits, blackcurrants, guavas, green peppers, broccoli, raw cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and potatoes. The recommended dietary intake ranges from 35 mg. in infants to 60-75 mg. in adults.

What happens in scurvy?Scurvy, where there is a deficiency of ascorbic acid or vitamin C, could be either adult or infantile. Ascorbic acid is responsible for formation of ‘collagen’ in connective tissues, the absence of which leads to swollen and spongy gums particularly in between teeth. The colour is a violaceous red with a shiny surface. The gums bleed easily; the teeth become loose and may even fall out. In infants the swollen gums almost cover the teeth.Fresh wounds fail to heal. There is bleeding under the skin in the lower thighs, feet and ankles; spontaneous bleeding may occur into the joints, under the nails or through the nose.

You may be unaware of this deficiency. But if you’re suffering from any of the above-mentioned symptoms, consult your physician immediately and get a complete blood picture done. Once you are through with him, consult your dentist; he will check with the physician and take the best possible course of action. In the meantime, call yourself a ‘limey’ and binge on the oranges!

The author is dental surgeon and can be contacted at ALL SMILES DENTAL CLINIC, 26673439, 9845085230.


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