Updated: Aug 13, 2020
They KNEW IT… but they died because they didn’t DO IT!
The Portuguese nobleman Vasco da Gama (1460-1524) sailed from Lisbon in 1497 on a mission to reach India and open a sea route from Europe to the East. After sailing down the western coast of Africa and rounding the Cape of Good Hope, his expedition made numerous stops in Africa before reaching the trading post of Calicut, India, in May 1498.
When Vasco de Gama made his triumphant voyage around the Cape of Good Hope, he took 160 men with him, but returned with only 60. Our imaginations go wild wondering what happened, from pirate raids to horrific storms stealing the lives of those brave sailors. But almost every one of them died because of the disease we now call scurvy.
Fortunately, in 1601 an English sea captain named John Lancaster discovered a cure for scurvy. He gave a little lime juice to every sailor every day, and after that, other than battling pirates or an accident or human error, every sailor returned home safely.
The British were initially mocked for this unusual practice, and slapped with the derogatory moniker limey.