(NaturalHealth365) Although surrounded by fruits rich in vitamin C, the earliest European colonists settling in the New World suffered severe deficiency of this critical vitamin. Archaeologists have studied the bones of the early settlers of La Isabela, located in the modern-day Dominican Republic, and found evidence of scurvy.
Diseases like smallpox, malaria and influenza have long been blamed for the demise of the village. But new evidence gathered from graveyard remains near the site of the town’s church reveal that severe vitamin C deficiency, or scurvy, was the true culprit behind the many deaths at Columbus’s first settlement.
Vitamin C deficiency leads to whole slate of serious, deadly illnesses
Archaeologist Vera Tiesler ,Universidad Autonma, de Yucatan, Mexico, authored the study and points out that many diseases, epidemics and fevers plagued the early colonists, sparing no one and eventually leading to the abandonment of the village. However, it appears scurvy played a pivotal role in the weakening and eventual deaths of the settlers.
Vitamin C deficiency is known to produce multiple symptoms, including anemia, lethargy, and re-opening of past wounds. Noticeable symptoms first appear following about one to three months of complete vitamin deficiency. The bones of the early colonists at La Isabela show distinct signs of severe vitamin C deficiency.
Keep in mind, some of the health problems associated with long-term, low levels of vitamin C in the body include:
- High blood pressure
- Increased risk of cancer
- Bleeding gums
- Swollen and painful joints
Weakened immune systems caused greater susceptibility to disease
While the skeletal remains of the inhabitants of La Isabela still bear the telltale signs of scurvy, severe vitamin C deficiency likely played an indirect role in causing so many deaths as well. Healthcare providers and patients alike generally acknowledge the importance of a strong immune system in sustaining life and maintaining optimal health.
The immune system is essential for recovering from an infection, helping diseased cells to recover to a state of normal health, and neutralizing and eliminating toxins. It is also well understood that a strong, competent immune system is the best way to ward off disease and illness before it gets a start.
Scientific studies begun more than a half century ago and continued through today establishes the key role that vitamin C can play in fighting acute viral and bacterial infections. It also plays a critical role in neutralizing most toxin exposures.
Known as a powerful antioxidant, vitamin C plays a significant role in warding off cancer and other disease, playing an expansive role in strengthening the immune system and improving its ability to overcome and prevent disease. In addition to its antioxidant properties, vitamin C carries out a number of other functions of the immune system, including enhanced antibody production and natural killer cell activities, among other important functions.
It is likely that the colonists suffered not only directly from the symptoms of scurvy – as evidenced in the striations carved in the outer lining of bones found in the skeletal remains – but also from weakened immune systems. This weakened state likely allowed cancer, infection and other diseases to run rampant through the town’s population.
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