Modern Day Knowledge Of Scurvy And Treatment

1640 Words Nov 23rd, 2015 7 Pages
European sailing ships first penetrated deep into the Indian and Pacific oceans in the 15th century with the intent of exploration, wealth, and war. The casualties were appalling. Historical records document that the Portuguese explorer Vasco Da Gama lost two-thirds of his crew to scurvy symptoms while traveling to India in 1499. Circumnavigator Ferdinand Magellan suffered 80% casualties to Scurvy. Among Magellan’s fleet of five galleons, only one ship survived the globe-trotting excursion. During the glorious age of sail, scurvy had claimed more sailors’ lives than all the others diseases and war combined. A stunning record of 2 million sailors perished between the 16th and 19th century among the combined European seafaring nations. While scurvy-like symptoms had been well-documented since the father of medicine Hippocrates first recorded it at around 400BC, treatment of scurvy had been uncertain and unreliable. It was not until the 18th century that the British Navy made systematic efforts to enact fleet-wide policies to combat this malicious disease, did maritime scurvy casualties decline.
Modern day knowledge of scurvy and treatment is pervasive in the developed world. Scurvy symptoms become present when the human body becomes deficient in water-soluble Vitamin C, or Ascorbic Acid. This compound is important in the synthesis of collagen (connective tissue), and the breakdown of key amino acids Proline and Lysine in human metabolic pathways. Subjectively, a…

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