Vitamin C is a cofactor in at least eight enzymatic reactions, including several collagen synthesis reactions that, when dysfunctional, cause the most severe symptoms of scurvy.
In animals, these reactions are especially important in wound-healing and in preventing bleeding from capillaries. Ascorbate may also act as an antioxidant against oxidative stress.
The fact that the enantiomer D-ascorbate (not found in nature) has an identical antioxidant activity to L-ascorbate, yet far less vitamin activity, underscores the fact that most of the function of L-ascorbate as a vitamin relies not on its antioxidant properties, but upon enzymic reactions that are stereospecific.
"Ascorbate" without the letter for the enantiomeric form is always presumed to be L-ascorbate.
Scurvy is a disease resulting from vitamin C Deficiency. Humans and certain animals require vitamin C in their diets for the synthesis of collagen. In infants, scurvy is sometimes referred to as Barlow's disease.
other eponyms for scurvy include Moeller's disease and Cheadle's disease. The chemical name for vitamin C, ascorbic acid, is derived from the Latin name of scurvy, scorbutus, which also provides the adjective scorbutic.
Typical symptoms of scurvy are initially fatigue, followed by the formation of spots on the skin, spongy gums, and bleeding from the mucous membranes. Spots are most abundant on the thighs and legs, and a person may look pale, feel depressed, and be partially immobilized.
As scurvy advances, there can be open, suppurating wounds, loss of teeth, yellow skin, fever, neuropathy and finally death from bleeding.
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