Scurvy is Back

Nutr Metab Insights. 2018 Nov 21:11:1178638818809097. doi: 10.1177/1178638818809097. eCollection 2018.


Background and objective: Scurvy, caused by vitamin C deficiency, first described by Hippocrates, is known to many as 'The Pirates' Disease'. Although a disease rarely acknowledged in modern medicine, we present 2 cases of elderly gentlemen found to have scurvy, who improved significantly on treatment.

Methods: This study presents a case report of 2 patients undergoing rehabilitation at Karin Grech Hospital in Malta, noted to have signs and symptoms of vitamin C deficiency. Vitamin C levels were found to be low and thus supplementation was administered.

Results: After a few weeks, a significant improvement was noted in level of frailty, mood, bleeding tendency, and gum health.

Conclusions: The modern doctor must keep this ancient disease in mind, as it presents insidiously with debilitating repercussions, particularly in older people who are at a higher risk. It is easily treatable once detected.

Keywords: Vitamin C; ascorbic acid; nutritional deficiency malnutrition; scurvy.

Publication types

  • Case Reports