January 28th, 2015 by Dr. Hannah Sivak
Deficiency of vitamin C results in scurvy (the name “Ascorbic Acid” is derived from the Latin word for scurvy, scorbutus), a nasty illness whose easy fix, citrus fruit, eluded pirates and sailors until 1753. Why is L-ascorbic acid a vitamin? Most animals can make their own vitamin C, but humans can’t. Somewhere along the line we lost a crucial enzyme, L-gulonolactone oxidase, required for the synthesis of L-ascorbic acid, making it an essential nutrient (i.e. we must get it by eating food containing it, or applying the vitamin to our skin).