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Scorbutic Gums, a result of scurvy.

Scurvy is a disease that often afflicted sailors on long voyages. It still affects children frequently today. This disease is also known as Moeller's disease, Barlow's disease and Cheadle's disease. Scurvy is easy to prevent by eating fruits (especially citrus) and green leafy vegetables like spinach and broccoli.


Scurvy begins gradually with feelings of generalized weakness and exhaustion. As it progresses, bleeding gums appear as the lack of vitamin C makes the capillaries very fragile. Other symptoms may include subcutaneous hemorrhage, pain in the joints, fatigue, nausea, bruising, loosening of teeth, dry skin and hair, poor healing of wounds, and liver spots. Scurvy may also be associated with anemia and stiff joints.


Scurvy is caused by a lack of vitamin C in the diet. This deficiency can be made worse by stress. Stress can prevent your body from assimilating enough vitamin C. Eating enough foods containing vitamin C can go a long way in preventing this deficiency, even if you do have stress. Eat foods like tomatoes, broccoli, turnip greens, spinach, cauliflower, bell peppers, and cabbage. Fruits like citrus, strawberries, guava, kiwi and cantaloupe are also high in vitamin C.


Scurvy can often be mistaken for rickets, rheumatism or paralysis. If scurvy progresses far enough, capillaries may rupture and cause extensive hemorrhage. Formula-fed infants are more at risk for infantile scurvy than breastfed infants, especially if the formula is based on cow's milk. Cow's milk has less than half the vitamin C found in women's breastmilk. Processed milk loses even more vitamin C.

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