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Old 08-14-2017, 08:28 AM
CalMeacham's Avatar
CalMeacham is offline
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 43,439
Originally Posted by Shoeless View Post
Speaking of vitamins, I found out recently that humans and guinea pigs are the only two animals that can't manufacture their own vitamin C, and have to get it through diet or supplements.
As Darren points out, there are some others. But most animals can, indeed, produce vitamin C in their own bodies. Presumably after our ancestor lost the ability, it wasn't a fatal mutation because they had a diet already rich in vitamin C, so it didn't make a difference. It was only when people started taking long sea voyages and the like that vitamin C deficiencies showed up as scurvy.

Ironically, the rats on board didn't suffer from scurvy as the sailors did -- their bodies were simply making their own vitamin C.

What's insidious is that vitamin C apparently deteriorates rapidly, so taking on board a supply of vitamin C isn't as easy as you'd think. Why it is that it survives in line juice and sauerkraut, but deteriorated to a useless byproduct in other cases (and, for that matter, how we keep the vitamin C from deteriorating in bottles of modern supplements) I admit I do not know. But early attempts to prevent scurvy by bringing on board foods that should have prevented it , but which didn't, must have been a severe test of the Scientific Method.