It’s May 2nd so Happy National Scurvy Awareness Day! You’re forgiven if you let it slip up on you. It’s not the most celebrated or known day on the long, long list of “National Days” that now over-populate the calendar. And we are glad it’s not. There are many other maladies that need more attention and awareness brought to them than scurvy, a disease that for most of the world is not a major problem. 

Scurvy is caused by Vitamin C deficiency with symptoms of red and purple blotches on the skin, itchy rash, and bleeding gums. Usually feelings of weakness and achiness in joints and muscles precede these more prominent symptoms. At later stages tooth loss is possible. Jaundice, fever, convulsions and eventually death can occur if not treated. In days gone by, the disease was a real threat, but in the modern and developed world the sickness is rare because of improved diets.

Symptoms of scurvy were first recorded by the ancient Egyptians and throughout human history the disease has been identified along with its cure—eating more fruits and vegetables. When sailors began to circumvent the globe it was a constant threat since it was very difficult to keep a steady supply of fresh foods on long voyages. Some historians have estimated that as many as 2 million sailors died during the Age of Exploration (1500-1800). The British Royal Navy began mandating daily rations of lime juice for members of its navy during the 1800’s. They would mix it with their rum or beer and called it “grog.” American sailors began calling British sailors “Limeys” in a derogatory fashion and it wasn’t long until the term began to be used for all Brits.

Now the lime is the symbol for the organizers of National Scurvy Awareness Day, using the Web address of and encouraging people to don lime green clothing on the day.

But interestingly, the lime is not the greatest source of Vitamin C. There are many other fruits and vegetables that are much higher in ascorbic acid, the other name for the powerful vitamin. Here is a list of ten that dwarf the lime when it comes to the magical C, listed in order of most to least.

May 2nd is National Scurvy Awareness Day in the USA. The sickness is caused by a lack of Vitamin C in the diet. We think of oranges and other citrus as the goto fruits for our daily C intake. But here is a list of nine other fruits and veggies that have quite a bit more and it probably will surprise you.


For many this must be a surprising list and probably raises some questions.  In the USDA’s database there are 276 fruits and vegetables listed that have more Vitamin C than a lime, which harbors only 29mg per 100 grams of the fruit. For our list we chose some of the more commonly eaten foods.  You are probably asking, “Why gold kiwi fruit and not green?” Good question but we chose the higher listed of the two for variety on our list. The green kiwi fruit is pretty high on the list but it has 10mg less Vitamin C than its golden sibling. Similarly for sweet peppers, the yellow one beats its red and green cousins substantially with almost twice as much Vitamin C than the green and 1 ½ times as much as the red.

And peppering the top of the USDA list are all types of…well…peppers! Especially hot peppers. But strangely the green varieties of hot peppers tend to contain more C than their red counter parts. Sorry Red Hot Chili Peppers (the band) but just plain old green hot chili peppers beat you out. But both are excellent sources of the nutrient with the green containing a whopping 242 mg and the red a very respectable 143.

So in recognition of National Scurvy Awareness Day, it’s good to know where you can get your daily doses of Vitamin C. And of course we all need it daily as the body cannot store it up. But if you are getting 5-10 servings of fresh fruit and vegetables every day, you won’t have to worry. Chances are you are already getting the 75-90 mgs a day recommended by dietitians.


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