Darwin-L Message Log 8:87 (April 1994)

Academic Discussion on the History and Theory of the Historical Sciences

This is one message from the Archives of Darwin-L (1993–1997), a professional discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences.

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<8:87>From phlkcs@gsusgi2.gsu.edu  Tue Apr 26 09:06:09 1994

Date: Tue, 26 Apr 1994 10:02:11 -0400 (EDT)
From: "Kelly C. Smith" <phlkcs@gsusgi2.gsu.edu>
Subject: Re: Vitamin C
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu

On Mon, 25 Apr 1994, MARC PICARD wrote:

> 	I've read that we are (practically?) the only mammals that don't
> produce their own vitamin C. Is this accurate, and if so, does anybody
> know what possible advantage we could have gained from evolving this way?
> Marc Picard

Linus Pauling provides several references for this in his _How to Live
long and Feel Better_.  He explains it by saying that humans used to eat
a diet very rich in fruits and vegetables (and thus also in C) and,
during that time, lost the capacity to produce the vitamin.  He ascribes
the loss to selection for increased physiological efficiency, but it
seems just as likely (in fact, more likely if C is as crucial to the
proper functioning of the body as he claims) to be the result of chance.
Of course, it could also be that vitamin C production really isn't very
important at all....

Kelly Smith

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