Meat and Scurvy

March 20, 2022

Meat and Scurvy

"If you only eat meat, (Animal Products), you will not get the vitamins you need. You will die of scurvy. (Vitamin C deficiency)" was what was said to Stefansson and Anderson when they returned from living with the Inuit for 5 years. Well, they hadn't died. They came back from northern Canada looking trim and fit. The scientific community of New York was convinced they were scientific fraudsters and refused to acknowledge their findings. Vitamin C had just been discovered and it was considered to be critical to life. After all, all those English sailors died on sailing ships unless they got their limes (hence the name 'Limies').

To prove their point, Stefansson and Anderson agreed to live solely on meat for a year, living at Bellview Hospital and providing a urine sample every morning to prove they were in ketosis and had not eaten any carbs. Well, they didn't die. They walked the streets of New York and did just fine. No diabetes, no weight gain, no scurvy. These were exactly the findings they had reported on the Inuit from Greenland and Northern Canada.

Ok! How? What's going on?

Studies done during World War II on conscientious objectors showed that you could induce scurvy in about two months by withholding Vitamin C. Doses of 10, 30, and 70 mg of Vitamin C.      All three doses worked to cure the scurvy in equal amounts of time. Did you get that? Ten mg a day is enough to cure scurvy. You don't need much Vitamin C to cure scurvy. And further studies measuring the anti-oxidant effect of Vitamin C in the blood show no added benefit at higher doses.

The answer is that you don't need Vitamin C at all if you eat just "animal". It has Vitamin C in it, despite most nutritional tableslisting animal products as having zero vitamin C. In fact, at about 16 mcg/g in grain-fed meat and 25 mcg/g in grass-fed meat, you get plenty of Vitamin C from "animals.". More importantly, it's the digestion of carbs that needs more vitamin C to accomplish, so you don't need that much when you eat just animal products. Hence, Stefansson returns from Northern Canada, healthy and trim. He reported that some Innuit in Greenland were developing scurvy, but only after being provided with "nutritional assistance" in the form of wheat and corn products, carbs.

Now, there is a whole discussion about saturated fat as being bad for you. I think there is nuance there for another day. Animals raised on grass just don't have that much saturated fat. Our modern, feed-lot animals, stuffed with corn and beans are chock full of saturated fat. Just like we humans. The overabundance of carbohydrates forces our metabolism to become insulin-driven, supersaturated with fat we have to rush into storage. Our cows and pigs put on weight. So do we. If we are to be meat-eaters and avoid the perils of saturated fat, we need to have pasture-raised animals, eggs, cheese, milk, fish, shrimp, oysters, sardines.....

There you have it. The question remains, how did that come about? Well, we humans began to evolve a larger brain some 5 million years ago and shifted to eating more animal products to support our energy-hungry brain. We started hunting and cooking, all of which supported our enlarging brain. We had so much Vitamin C in our diet and needed so little, there was no dietary need for more Vitamin C. There was no evolutionary penalty to the loss of the ability to manufacture it for ourselves, because, by eating meat only, we simply got enough. Same with B12. You don't get B12 from plants. It was only 5000 years ago that we started shifting back from hunting and eating meat to settling down and eating plants. That's not enough time to recover the need to make Vitamin C.

www.What will Work for me. I used to believe you had to have Vitamin C and took a gram of it every day for years. That was while I was being a foodie, following all the admonitions to eat mostly plants. "Eat Foods, Mostly Plants, Not Too Much" was pretty much a mantra. I've read the book Carnivore Code by Paul Saladino. He makes a pretty strong argument for reconsidering our fear of animals. As I've watched my gradual waist line enlarge, I've been discouraged with the metabolic mess eating just plants seems to lead to. I've been wearing a glucose monitor for a month now, eating animal only. It's mind-boggling. Next week.

References: Carnivore Code, Meat Science, Science Direct, Wikipedia, Clinical Calorimetry, J Am Coll Nutr, Meat Science, Ample,

Pop Quiz

1. Vitamin C is critical for life. T or F.                                      Answer: True (and a supplement if you eat carbs)

2. Indigenous peoples have always chosen animal foods over plant foods? T or F.                           Answer: True.

3. When you feed bison corn and beans, the fat in the bison becomes what?                                  Answer: In just a few weeks, their fat changes from mostly omega-three fatty acids to saturated fats. Just like with all mammals. Sheep, pigs, cows, camels, humans......

4. The fat in your waistline is mostly what?                                                       Answer: Well, you ate corn and beans too.....saturated fat. Call it your feedlot-tummy.

5. Can you prevent scurvy by eating meat.                                          Answer: Yup.  It has sufficient Vitamin C