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With daily consumption of wine estimated to be about 1 liter/day based on production, vitamin c requirements may be about covered. Was that a reason why these enormous consumption levels were thought to be healthy, despite some side-effects that would not have escaped the medics of the time?

closed as off-topic by Pieter Geerkens, user69715, Denis de Bernardy, John Dallman, Jos Apr 28 '18 at 6:07

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    Scurvy is only an issue when the long term diet is low in vitamin C. Why do you believe that the general Roman diet was lacking in fresh fruit and vegetables (the usual sources of Vitamin C)? – Steve Bird Apr 27 '18 at 23:44
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    Please, share your prior research: Please provide a measurement of ascorbic acid in wine and compare that to the level needed to reliably prevent scurvy; the prevalent drinking patterns; ancient or modern medical writings making that connection… – LаngLаngС Apr 27 '18 at 23:44
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    Try to not argue in comments, edit. This Q might have merit, but is unclear to me. Try to clarify your assumptions vs inferences vs what you found directly addressing this. – Where do you get the number for "daily consumption" from? (Plain water is often underestimated, secondary uses for grapes underestimated…) – LаngLаngС Apr 28 '18 at 1:06
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    @HannesH You have some pertinent information in your comments. Your question would be improved if you edited this information in your comments into the question. – Lars Bosteen Apr 28 '18 at 1:47
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    Wine has vitamin C? Since when? – Jos Apr 28 '18 at 4:10
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Wine has no vitamin C at all, so the answer would be: definitely no. But there's a twist.

To expand on @LarsBosteen's comment: the wiki page on Posca and romae-vitam.com claim that Posca, rather than wine, actually may have been the antiscorbutic the larger population relied on. It's basically a mix of wine vinegar, water, and additives thrown in for flavor (Romans, as an aside, thought of drinking wine pure as vulgar). That is a lot more plausible - especially given the recipe suggestion on romae-vitam.com:

  • 1.5 cups of red wine vinegar.
  • 0.5 cups of honey.
  • 1 tablespoon of crushed coriander seed.
  • 4 cups of water.

(Keep in mind that this is a recreation, as it seems we don't actually know for sure how Romans would season Posca exactly. Honey in particular was expensive enough that I sincerely doubt your typical peasant would use some to make Posca.)

At any rate, coriander seeds have ~21mg of vitamin C per 100g. That pales to kale (120mg) or lemon (53mg) but it's a lot more than in olives (0.9mg), honey (.5mg), or red wine vinegar (0mg).

I'd surmise their vitamin C requirements were met by fruits and veggies first and foremost, but during a winter campaign abroad, drinking Posca following the above recipe could seem like a good enough source - with the caveat that it's the seasoning, rather than the wine or the wine vinegar itself, that is providing the antiscorbutic properties.

  • In the light of your answer (+1), I've voted to reopen this question. – Lars Bosteen Apr 29 '18 at 3:14

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