Scurvy was at one time one of the most wide‐spread diseases, especially among seamen on long voyages. Little was known about the causes or treatment of the disease, but in 1753 James Lind showed that it could be prevented and cured by eating fresh fruits and vegetables. Captain Cook in his voyages made full use of this discovery to keep his crew in good health. In 1842, Budd suggested that scurvy was the result of ‘abstinence from vegetables and fruits’, but it was not until 1907 that this was demonstrated in practice, when Hoist and Frölich produced experimental scurvy in guinea pigs by using a restricted diet. In 1932 the active factor, ascorbic acid, was isolated in a pure form from lemons by Zilva and found to be identical with a compound obtained by Szent‐Györgyi from cabbages and adrenal glands in 1928. Finally, Haworth and Hirst identified the structure of ascorbic acid or vitamin C, which was synthesised in the same year by Reichstein and others.
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