The plant Cochlearia officinalis, also known as "Common Scurvygrass", acquired its common name from the observation that it cured scurvy, and it was taken on board ships in dried bundles or distilled extracts. Its very bitter taste was usually disguised with herbs and spices; however, this did not prevent scurvygrass drinks and sandwiches becoming a popular fad in the UK until the middle of the nineteenth century, when citrus fruits became more readily available.
Vitamin C is widespread in plant tissues, with particularly high concentrations occurring in cruciferous vegetables, capsicum fruit including chilli and all colours of bell peppers, citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruits), and almost all fruits including culinary fruits like tomatoes.
The Inuit appear to be very healthy with a diet almost devoid of plants. They appear to get enough Vitamin C from raw fish and organs of marine mammals, and muktuk, the skin of the beluga whale.
Early symptoms are malaise and lethargy. After 1–3 months, patients develop shortness of breath and bone pain. Myalgias may occur because of reduced carnitine production. Other symptoms include skin changes with roughness, easy bruising and petechiae, gum disease, loosening of teeth, poor wound healing, and emotional changes (which may appear before any physical changes). Dry mouth and dry eyes similar to Sjögren's syndrome may occur. In the late stages, jaundice, generalized edema, oliguria, neuropathy, fever, convulsions, and eventual death are frequently seen.
Scurvy can be prevented by a diet that includes certain citrus fruits such as oranges or lemons. Other sources rich in vitamin C are fruits such as blackcurrants, guava, kiwifruit, papaya, tomatoes, bell peppers, and strawberries. It can also be found in some vegetables, such as carrots, broccoli, potatoes, cabbage, spinach and paprika. Some fruits and vegetables not high in vitamin C may be pickled in lemon juice, which is high in vitamin C. Though redundant in the presence of a balanced diet, various nutritional supplements are available that provide ascorbic acid well in excess of that required to prevent scurvy, and even some candies contain vitamin C as a preservative.