Tuesday, October 2, 2018

What I Know About Scurvy

What do we know about vitamins?

What grade in school would we learn about them? Mission Nutrition has lesson plans for grades 4-5. Other sites have plans for grade 9 to 12.  The lesson plans identify the 13 essential vitamins, what their purpose is, and what foods contain them.

I can imagine today that there might be common vitamin deficiencies if people eat processed rather than fresh foods and vegetables.

The vitamin I am most acquainted with is Vitamin C. We  learned about scurvy in history class.  It was a problem throughout the period of exploration and settlement in Canada.   I remember the cure was drinking coniferous needles boiled in water.  The explorers didn't stay with the cure, and significant numbers of scurvy deaths continued throughout the period.

In the 1950s, mass production and marketing of vitamin supplements made them readily available.  Governments mandated supplementary vitamins in staple foods - flour and milk were the two common ones. So Vitamin C came into our houses in pill bottles.

Our lesson plan today is to learn about Vitamin C.

You will need:
  • 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 cup water
  • iodine
  • More water
  • Eye dropper
  • Medium sized bowl
  • Several smaller bowls
  • Crushed vitamin C tablet dissolved in 1 cup water
  • Various beverages orange juice, orange soda, cranberry juice, grapefruit juice, punch, etc.
Mix 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch into 1 cup cold water; dissolve mixture by heating. Measure 1 cup water into a bowl add 1 teaspoon of the cornstarch mixture. Using an eye dropper add 4 drops of iodine and stir. The mixture should be a pale blue. Put 2 Tablespoons of the mixture into several small bowls. Using a clean eye dropper add the vitamin C solution to one of the blue mixtures. In another bowl add orange juice, another orange soda, etc. Make note of how many drops it takes before the blue color disappears.
Discussion: Only foods with vitamin C will make the blue color disappear. The punch and orange soda do not have vitamin C.  If a food does not have vitamin C the solution will not change color.
And today's picture makes me think of England with the beautiful setting of the Conservatory in Minneapolis.

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