Fact of the Day
Mammals such as goats are able to produce their own vitamin C and to do so involuntarily when they are stressed or ill. This self regulating gene is beneficial and helps the animal live a longer and healthier life. In our genetic makeup, the remnants of such a gene appear to exist. Unfortunately, at some point during our evolution, we lost the ability to produce our own vitamin C for one environmental reason or another. With this in mind, anthropological nutritionists recommend that we ingest loads more vitamin C on a daily basis to coincide with our ancient genetic makeup. In Jack Challem's article on Paleolithic Nutrition he states that, "According to Eaton, 99 percent of our genetic heritage dates from before our biological ancestors evolved into Homo sapiens about 40,000 years ago, and 99.99 percent of our genes were formed before the development of agriculture about 10,000 years ago." Knowing this, the modern human diet should be greatly retrograded to consist of mostly fruits and vegetables plus the occasional undomesticated meat product. Far from the norm, yet not to far away from lenient veganism.
One theory brought up in Jack Challem's article may shine some light on where the vitamin C evolutionary misstep may have arisen and how it may coincide with the evolutionary hump conquered by primates. An event catastrophic enough to throw off an environment's equilibrium (i.e. giant volcanic eruption, asteroid, etc.) could have either altered the availability of vitamin C or could have screwed with our production/intake of the substance. Either way, this could have happen while we were still pretty apish (most likely, because primates are part of the few exceptions to mammals who can produce their own vitamin C). If this happen as just stated, a genetic mutation such as this would release oodles of free radicals. These free radicals are what make DNA production possible. In layman's terms, Challem therefore says that during this time it would have been possible for an ape to have birthed an the beginnings of an early neanderthal human predecessor.
Other mammals that don't produce their own vitamin C: guinea pigs and fruit bats (yes, that's why there called fruit bats). Point of the story: go eat an orange.
relatedFAQs: Human Asset, Limeys and Scurvy, and Left to Evolution.
Challem, Jack. "Paleolithic Nutrition: Your Future Is In Your Dietary Past." The Nutrition Reporter. 6 Oct. 2008 .
Criswell, D. 2007. Adam and Eve, Vitamin C, and Pseudogenes. Acts & Facts. 36 (5).
"Vitamin C in New Zealand.." Vitamin C in New Zealand. 20 Mar. 2008. 6 Oct. 2008 .
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