I learned early on that the reason you might have heard the, largely derogatory term, Limey, to refer to a Brit, is that British sailors ate limes to avoid the plague of scurvy- the disease caused by severe Vitamin C deficiency.
Back in the late 1800s limes and lemons were referred to interchangeably as limes. English sailors used to get their naval vitamin C from lemons grown in Europe. But as the British Empire grew, they started using limes grown by slaves in conquered lands, sorry, I mean colonies. The joke was on them though because limes contain about a quarter of the vitamin C as lemons, and the way they processed and stored the limes destroyed the vitamin C content even further. They added it to their daily ration of rum that they got from other subdued peoples in subdued lands, whoops, I mean colonies again.
Grog Rhyming Recipe
One part sour
Two parts sweet
Three parts strong
Four parts weak
The one part sour was lime juice. The sweet was refined sugar or molasses from the Caribbean. Strong referred to rum and the weak referred to water. They didn’t even have to use particularly fresh water as the alcohol would generally kill most common water-borne pathogens. Even with the reduced vitamin C content, the recipe was still enough to avoid scurvy.
I suppose though, dear reader, that you are much less concerned with scurvy and much more concerned with how vitamin C will affect you and your health in the modern world.
Vitamin C is like a multi-tool for your immune system.
Barrier Integrity and Wound Healing: vitamin C in the skin is thought to stabilize collagen in skin which increases its function as a barrier to pathogens.
Gives your immune system a “map” to the site of the infection: Neutrophils are attracted to infected tissues by a number of chemical signals. They will swarm toward infected tissues by what is called chemotaxis. Studies show that vitamin C saturated neutrophils have enhanced chemotaxis compared to those with lower levels of vitamin C. Those saturated neutrophils are also better at consuming the pathogen, killing it and getting the remains of the pathogen broken down and out of the body.
Decreases proinflammatory cytokines and increases anti-inflammatory cytokines: Cytokines are secreted by a variety of immune cells in response to infection. Vitamin C appears to increase anti-inflammatory cytokine activity and decrease proinflammatory activity.
It is for these reasons, but not only these reasons, that we have included 500mg per dose of vitamin C in our Support System VZ herbal capsules. Supplementing with vitamin C is safe, mainly because it is a water soluble vitamin and if you get more than you need, all the extra leaves your body in urine.
Vitamin C is important but never forget that all these things only support what your body is doing. Some really easy but no less essential ways you can also support what your immune system are to sleep enough, move your body, eat good food, wash your hands and, when appropriate, wear a mask.