Why 's Buttons By Penny Lecouteur And Jay Burreson Essay

1224 Words Jan 30th, 2016 5 Pages
Napoleon’s Buttons by Penny LeCouteur and Jay Burreson explores 17 molecules that have had an immense and reflective effect on history. One molecule explored in the novel is a molecule known as ascorbic acid. Ascorbic acid, also known as vitamin C, played a key role primarily throughout the Age of Exploration.
The first indication of vitamin C was detected through a condition known as scurvy. Scurvy is a disease resulting from a deficiency of the ascorbic acid molecule. Humans and certain animals depend upon vitamin C in their diets in order to synthesize a protein known as collagen. Lack of collagen justifies the early symptoms of scurvy. Some of these symptoms include swelling of limbs, softening of gums, and loosening of teeth. In the 13th century, the Crusaders periodically suffered from scurvy. Despite clear evidence of scurvy on land, the condition predominantly effected maritime expeditions.
Access to fresh food aboard ships during this time period was exceedingly difficult. As a result of wooden ships, mold became easily dispersed which posed an issue with keeping fresh food dry and mold free. This dilemma not only had an effect on their diet but it also largely affected the travelers living conditions. Water was frequently absorbed through the inside of wooden hulls, which ensued poor ventilation and extreme humidity. As expeditions progressed, mold and mildew grew on clothing and the voyagers’ belongings. A typical sailor’s diet consisted of salted beef or pork…

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