MadSci Network: Biochemistry

Re: How do carnivores get their vitamin C?

Date: Fri Aug 12 05:06:02 2005
Posted By: Dr. Ankur Shah, Doctor (MBBS), Medical Officer
Area of science: Biochemistry
ID: 1123606374.Bc

It is not only fruits that have Vitamin C. It is true that fruits contain large amounts of the vitamin, but carnivores also get their share from the meat that they consume. Meat is also a good source of Vitamin C. Since it is a water soluble vitamin and easily destroyed by heat, when we eat meat, the vitamin content in it is mostly destroyed by the processing that it undergoes. Carnivores eat raw meat; you wouldn't like that, would you? So, for us, it is fruits that provide us with the Vitamin C we need.

Michael Onken notes: Regardless of the ascorbate content of raw meat, the chief source of vitamin C for all but a handful of mammals is L-Gulono-gamma- lactone oxidase. This enzyme is, sadly, missing from primates, guinea pigs, and bats, such that we have to eat foods containing ascorbate instead of just making it ourselves. Studying the sequence of the non-functional human L-Gulono-gamma-lactone oxidase gene has been important to understanding our evolution. Carnivores need a dietary source of vitamin C like plants need a source of fixed carbon. [2005-09-08 -- RJS]

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