The story of vitamin C goes back to the 18th century to a time when people aboard ships were at sea for periods of time longer than vegetables and fruits could last without proper storage. A mystery illness spread across the ships with symptoms like bleeding gums, muscle degeneration, spotty skin and bone pain. This was later linked to Vitamin C deficiency and the disease identified as scurvy.
A Scottish Naval surgeon James Lind first proved it could be treated with citrus fruit in experiments that he described in his 1753 book, A Treatise of the Scurvy. Further research in the 1900s linked other fruits and vegetables with Vitamin C in addition to citrus fruits. Chefs realized that apples turned brown when cut due to air oxidation and lack of protective antioxidant that are rich in the protective skin of the fruit yet largely absent from the fruit flesh. Maybe added antioxidants in citrus juice protected the exposed fruit?
The 20th century saw a brilliant Hungarian scientist by the name of Albert Szent-Györgyi discover what we know today as Vitamin C. He stumbled upon this discovery when he realized that the Hungarian paprika his wife used for his not so favorite dish, stayed red even when dried.
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