backup og meta
Health Screening
Ask Doctor
Table of Content

All About Scurvy: What It Is and How To Deal With It

Medically reviewed by Regina Victoria Boyles, MD · Pediatrics

Written by Gerard Tamayo · Updated May 10, 2022

All About Scurvy: What It Is and How To Deal With It

Scurvy disease has long been associated with a deficiency in an individual’s diet, in particular the lack of oranges or other citrus fruits, and starvation. These associations are not far off the mark. Scurvy disease occurs when a person has a severe lack of vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, in his or her body.

Vitamins are necessary nutrients that are needed by the body to carry out a wide variety of processes. These vitamins are either fat-soluble or water-soluble, and vitamin C, which is important when discussing scurvy disease, is water-soluble. Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits, guavas, brussels sprouts, different kinds of peppers, broccoli, tomatoes, turnips, and other leafy vegetables. 

Because vitamin C is water-soluble, the body is unable to store it well; unused vitamin C passes through the urine. For this reason, we all need a steady source of vitamin C in our diet. The daily recommended allowance (RDA) of vitamin C is as follows:

  • 90 mg daily for men
  • 75 mg for women
  • 85 mg for pregnant women
  • 120 mg for lactating women

Smoking depletes vitamin C levels in the body. Doctors recommend that smokers get an additional 35 mg of vitamin C beyond the typical RDA. 

The human body needs vitamin C for basic physiological functions. Vitamins help in the processing of substances such as folic acid, tryptophan, and tyrosine. It facilitates the processing and conversion of cholesterol to steroid or bile acids, thus lowering the blood cholesterol level of the body.


What Causes Scurvy?

Scurvy disease is caused by a severe lack of vitamin C. And it usually appears when the body has a vitamin C deficiency for at least three months. Currently, in the Philippines and many countries around the world, scurvy is rare as vitamin C is readily available and comes from a wide variety of sources in a typical, healthy diet. But even though the incidence of the disease has waned, some groups are still at risk.


What Are the Symptoms of Scurvy Disease?

Symptoms of scurvy disease include: 

  • limb pain and joint pain
  • consistent fatigue and body weakness
  • feeling irritated or sad
  • bruised skin, and spots on the skin that may appear reddish or bluish and are commonly found in the shin area
  • swollen and bleeding gums with chances of your teeth falling out
  • poor wound healing

Scurvy Disease Risk Factors

Who Is Most Likely To Get Scurvy?

Babies, children and the elderly are most at risk of getting scurvy. In addition, there are multiple factors that increase your risk of getting the disease:

  • no fruits or vegetables in your diet
  • smoking
  • drug or alcohol tendencies that affect your diet
  • having a generally abnormally low intake of food
  • eating disorders such as anorexia
  • poor diet during pregnancy

Treatment and Prevention

How Is Scurvy Disease Treated?

Prevention and treatment of scurvy disease are similar. Both involve the addition of vitamin C to one’s diet through regular consumption of fruits and vegetables. If needed, doctors may prescribe vitamin C supplements such as ascorbic acid tablets to help deal with the vitamin C deficit. 

For those who are already suffering from scurvy disease, the consumption of food and supplements rich in vitamin C will typically make them feel better within 48 hours and fully cure scurvy disease within two weeks.

For prevention, a healthy and balanced diet with a good amount of food containing vitamin C is all you need to keep yourself safe from scurvy disease.

If you are pregnant and believe that you may be experiencing symptoms that are similar to that of scurvy, it is best to speak to your doctor immediately.

Key Takeaway

In conclusion, scurvy disease is a straightforward medical condition that has a simple solution: regular intake of healthy food containing vitamin C, or the consumption of ascorbic acid supplements. If you suspect that you or your loved ones have scurvy disease, immediately seek medical help.

Learn more about General Health Knowledge here.


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Regina Victoria Boyles, MD


Written by Gerard Tamayo · Updated May 10, 2022

advertisement iconadvertisement

Was this article helpful?

advertisement iconadvertisement
advertisement iconadvertisement