An Ancient Disease Is Making A Comeback In Parts Of The USA

An 1887 drawing of the leg of a man with scurvy. Wikimedia Commons

This occurrence is explored in a new documentary called Vitamania. Medical doctor Eric Churchill, who practices in Springfield, Massachusetts, and features in the new film, explained that his team alone have diagnosed between 20 and 30 new cases of scurvy over the past six years – a surprisingly high number. But why?

"Many people who have difficulty affording food tend to go for food that is high fat, high calorie, and very filling," Churchill says in the documentary.

"If you have a limited food budget, those are the meals that will fill you up and will satisfy you more than eating fruits and vegetables."    

Therefore, those of lower socio-economic status within wealthy countries are the ones being affected by this nutritional disease, something that needs to be addressed.

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"Scurvy stands out in our minds as something that is so basic and easy to avoid, and yet these people have ended up falling victim to an illness that simply should not exist in a developed country," Churchill said.

Various species in the animal kingdom – like lemurs and lorises – can produce their own vitamin C, but unfortunately, we can’t, so our diet is incredibly important. And it’s not just a lack of fruit and veg that can lead to scurvy – the way we cook them can have an effect too. Overcooking vegetables can destroy the vital vitamins within them. Excellent sources of vitamin C include tomatoes, oranges, peppers, guavas, strawberries, and coriander.

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