Curing Scurvy

Only primates and guinea pigs get scurvy, because they're the only groups of mammals that can't synthesize vitamin C endogenously. Other species do make it and don't have to have dietary sources.

Scurvy was one of the plagues of long distance travel by sailing ship, when voyages could last for months to years. During that time the crews lived on salted meat and dried root vegetables, the only things that could be kept edible without refrigeration. It was discovered empirically in the early 18th Century that drinking the juice of citrus fruits—which is high in vitamin C—would prevent this affliction, and the work of James Lind (left) proved the curative and preventative powers of citrus fruits, especially limes, in treating this condition. The Royal Navy promptly adopted a regulation that required all its men to drink a weekly ration of lime juice. This practice was so rigorously enforced, and became so strongly associated with British sailors, that to this day Englishmen are still known by the nickname given to them by other Navies: "Limeys."

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