You’ve probably heard the story about the discovery of what was later called ‘vitamin C’ from accounts of the sailors’ disease called scurvy, the oldest known nutrient-deficiency disease, which was cured by eating citrus fruit. In fact, the nickname for British sailors became ‘limeys.’ It wasn’t until 1932, however, that researchers isolated the vitamin and named it ‘ascorbic acid,’ meaning ‘without scurvy.’ Vitamin C helps form and maintain collagen, a protein that forms the basis for connective tissue, the most abundant tissue in the body. A deficiency of the vitamin causes bleeding gums, dry skin, damage to blood vessels, loose teeth, gangrene, depression, and stomach disorders, among other problems. It’s also good for iron deficiencies, because it helps the body absorb iron. Vitamin C recently has been a controversial nutrient, starting with claims that massive doses could prevent and cure colds. Research has shown that regular consumption of C may help eliminate the effects of oxidation in the body, which may reduce the risk of certain diseases, including heart disease and cancer. However, taking it won’t prevent these diseases alone, unless it’s combined with a low-fat balanced diet, regular exercise, and avoidance of unhealthful lifestyle practices, such as smoking and excess drinking. Eating plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits, especially citrus, can satisfy your basic requirement for this important vitamin.