Avast, ye scurvy seadogs
– Every pirate ever
Anyone who lived a healthy childhood is likely to be familiar with the term scurvy, especially as it relates to piracy on the high seas. The reality is that privateers and merchants alike were engaging in a form of BugOut nutrition hundreds of years ago, engaging in nutritional preparation to maximize their performance when in situations of uncertain food supply.
If there wasn’t enough Vitamin C, sailors would experience brown spots, soft gums and eventually bleeding from all orifices that caused death.
Why Vitamin C is part of your essential emergency supplies
As one of the most important water soluble vitamins, there are many functions that vitamin C is responsible for, including recovery, immune and oxidative defense, and the maintenance of connective tissue in the body. This makes it one of your essential emergency supplies when it comes to survival.
Vitamin C plays a key role in bone formation and scar tissue repair. Nowhere is this more important than in a disaster scenario. When the SHTF, you need to recover as fast as possible. Being laid up by injuries could completely throw off your plans. It would be a crying shame if you weren’t able to escape to your well stocked bug out location because you were slowed down by an injury, too slow to escape the rising tides/angry mob/legions of undead.
Vitamin C is also one of the most powerful antioxidants commonly available. It has a direct relationship with glutathione, which the body uses for detoxification of the liver and other tissues. As an antioxidant, it can help reduce the effect of toxic substances in your body such as alcohol.
Finally, it is required for the maintenance of connective tissue. This brings us full circle to the scurvy example. Without vitamin C, the body cannot maintain collagen, the primary protein in your skin, gums and pretty much everything else. As collagen degrades, so does the tissue it is made of, which is why the skin and gums start to bleed. Without structure, they cannot do the job of protecting the body which can lead to death in extreme cases.
So how would one prevent this?
Different forms, different sources
The most common form of vitamin C is ascorbic acid. Ascorbic Acid and the related ascorbates (AA bound to a mineral) are one of the rare cases where the easiest form to produce is still good for you.
The best way to supplement C vitamins, in home and in the field
Good news and bad news. The good news is: vitamin C is produced by almost every
plant and animal on the planet. The bad news is that humans are among the very few species that can’t make it. In order to reap the benefits of vitamin C, it must be consumed regularly.
The classic way to supplement vitamin C for the seafarers of old was through bringing citrus on the ship. The problem with this was that fruit only lasted so long. People trying to prep for long term survival would be set until the lemons ran out.
Fortunately, vitamin C is found in fruiting plants found in almost every climate. Foraging berries, cactus fruit or mangoes would help you get enough vitamin C to provide. In a worst case scenario, even eating meat will prevent vitamin C deficiency. Native inuits in the arctic, with no sources of fruiting plants are able to make due with organ meats such as caribou liver, seal brain and whale skin, which are the same organs your body uses to store vitamin c in the medium term.