The high seas, mutiny, and Davy Jones’ Locker might come to mind when you think of a pirate’s worst fear, but the true peril aboard these cursed ships was something much different…scurvy. This disease was a pirate’s right of passage during the sixteenth century when their long voyages often had little to no fresh food – most importantly: no lemons, limes or oranges (equivalent to gold on the open sea). Scurvy is brought on by a severe Vitamin C deficiency causing loss of teeth, swelling, sores, and likely a walk off the plank. 

We’ve come along way over the past few centuries. Life looks a lot different, and so does our access to vital nutrients like Vitamin C. We now know what it looks like when we consume zero or very little Vitamin C (e.g. peg-leg pirates), but how exactly does Vitamin C benefit our bodies when we have it regularly?

The function of Vitamin C in our bodies, according to the NIH, covers a ton of ground when it comes to supporting our system’s natural process. It helps repair wounds and connective tissue through the synthesis of collagen, it is a powerful antioxidant that limits damage from free radicals that cause disease, it helps us absorb iron from plant-based foods, and its extremely important to our immune systems. 

Let’s hone in on two of these essential roles: antioxidant and immune function. 


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