Letter Re: Avoiding Vitamin Deficiency Illnesses in Societal Collapse

Dear Jim:
Recently, while doing some genealogy research, I discovered that my great aunt died at age 22 in Sunderland, England.  She had married in 1906 and died in 1907.  We all assumed it was childbirth related.  Not so.  The death certificate says:  “Scurvy septicaemia”.  This is certainly not anything I have heard of before. 

I did some reading and found that Scurvy is is a lack of Vitamin C with symptoms of weakness, spongy and bleeding gums, and hemorrhages under the skin.  As scurvy advances, there can be open wounds filled with pus, loss of teeth, jaundice, fever, neuropathy and death.   Septicemia is blood poisoning.   So, it appears she had an advanced case of scurvy with open sores which became infected.  Because her system was so weakened, the infection spread through her whole body and killed her.

If we are considering preparing for crisis situations, two simple things may prevent what happened to great aunt Mary:  (1) a stockpile of Vitamin C and (2) lots of soap and clean water.  These remedies are inexpensive and preventative.  Stock up! – Gracie

JWR Replies: All well-prepared families should plan on both storing commercial Vitamin C tablets and collecting and storing their own sources. By coincidence, the folks over at the excellent Paratus Familia blog (one of Avalanche Lily‘s daily reads) just posted this: Wildcrafting – Rose Hip Jelly.

Rickets (due to lack of Vitamin D), is also easily avoidable. Natural sources of Vitamin D include cod liver oil, fatty fish, eggs, lard, many dairy products, and fish roe. You can store cod liver oil in bulk. But of course without measured doses, there could be the risk of over-dosing Vitamin D. So be sure to use a teaspoon measure, rather than just a brave gulp.

As I mentioned in my book How to Survive the End of the World As We Know It, Vitamins K, A, D, and E are all fat soluble, so there is the risk of overdosing. Not so for water-soluble vitamins. With those, anything excess to a body’s needs are excreted in the urine. But that would be a waste of a resource that might be crucial for you and your neighbors.