Scurvy cases reported in Australia due to poor diets

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 30th November 2016
Professor Jenny Gunton and her patient, Penelope Jackson

Professor Jenny Gunton and her patient, Penelope Jackson

A leading Sydney-based medical professor has written about cases of scurvy among patients in Sydney and the relationship of the disease to their poor diets.

Professor Jenny Gunton, who heads the Centre for Diabetes, Obesity and Endocrinology at The Westmead Institute, realised a number of her patients had scurvy due to their diet when they presented to her with wounds which did not heal until she prescribed courses of vitamin C.

Even if the patient was overweight or obese, Professor Gunton discovered they were not consuming enough vitamin C. The lack of vitamin C causes scurvy, a disease often associated with old-world sailors on long voyages.

“When I asked about their diet, one person was eating little or no fresh fruit and vegetables, but the rest ate fair amounts of vegetables; they were simply over-cooking them, which destroys the vitamin C,” Professor Gunton said.

Professor Gunton has published a paper on her finding in the international journal, Diabetic Medicine, and has advised some diabetes patients be tested for vitamin C deficiency.

“While diabetes is not traditionally a risk factor for vitamin C deficiency, the research suggests that clinicians should be alert to the potential problem, she said.

Common foods with vitamin C include oranges, strawberries, red and green capsicums, broccoli, kiwi fruit and grapefruit. These foods should not be overcooked to help maintain their vitamin C.

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