Vitamin C Deficiency Symptoms Diagnose Prevention & Treatment

During hot summers, we all love the sweet flavour of orange juice and the refreshing zest of lemon juice. Kids especially love recharging themselves with these juice after a long day of school and play, and the best part is that mom lets them drink as much as they want because she knows that it is rich in vitamin C. The abundance of vitamin C in their bodies help them last long at day without feeling tired and lazy.

What is Vitamin C?

Vitamin C also known as ascorbic acid is a water-soluble vitamin that is needed in small portions by the body to keep body healthy. Unlike some other vitamins, vitamin C cannot be produced by our body hence we must include it in our daily diet. It is responsible for making collagen in the body which helps in the creation and repair of various tissues in the body like skin, bone, cartilage, ligaments and tendons, blood vessel walls, and teeth.

As many of you might already know the most commonly known sources of vitamin C are citrus fruits like grapefruit, oranges, limes & lemons. Apart from these berries such as strawberries, blackcurrants, blueberries, raspberries and cranberries are also rich in vitamin C. Other fruits that have vitamin C are Watermelon, Cantaloupe melon and kiwi. Vegetables such as green & red peppers, spinach, cauliflower, tomatoes, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, potatoes and cabbage are also rich in vitamin C.

The primary source of vitamin C are fruits and vegetables, and many other food items like fresh milk, fish and offal like liver and kidney are also a source of vitamin C. Breakfast cereals are one of those foods that have vitamin C added to them. Cooking these food items reduce vitamin C by a third.

Daily Intake of Vitamin C 

People who require this vitamin the most are children, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers. The daily intake of vitamin C varies in different genders and ages and also different doctors may suggest different intakes as per their opinion, but the general opinion suggests that children aged 1-10 years need 30 mg of vitamin C per day, children aged 11-14 years need 35 mg of vitamin C per day, and children over the age of 15 years and adults need 40 mg per day. 

As for adults, the recommended daily amount for vitamin C is 65 – 90 milligrams (mg) per day, with the maximum limit being 2,000 mg per day. It is usually seen that too much consumption of dietary nutrients can become harmful for the human body but vitamin C is unlikely to create any problems, although mega doses of vitamin C supplements might cause diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, heartburn, abdominal cramps, headache and insomnia.

Symptoms of Vitamin C Deficiency 

Symptoms of vitamin C deficiency can be simple which can be looked out for daily whereas some severe symptoms can take months to develop. Some symptoms of vitamin C deficiency are listed below:

1. Rough Skin

Since vitamin C is important in the production of collagen its scarcity in the body can result in a skin condition called keratosis pilaris. Due to the build-up of keratin protein inside the pores, bumpy skin is formed on the back of the upper arms, thighs, and buttocks. This condition however can easily be treated with the intake of supplements.

2. Coil-shaped Hair

Deficiency of vitamin C also cause hair to become coil-shaped, this happens due to the protein defects in the hair. This is one of the most common symptoms of the deficiency but isn’t too obvious because the hair tends to fall out quickly when struck with this vitamin c deficiency.

3. Red Hair Follicles

On the skin’s surface there are hair follicles that contain tiny blood vessels responsible for carrying blood and other nutrients to the hair. If a person is suffering from vitamin C deficiency then these blood vessels become very weak and break easily, this causes small red spots to appear around the hair follicles. This condition is called perifollicular haemorrhage. 

4. Spoon-shaped Fingernails

Fingernails that are concave shaped and are thin and brittle are called spoon-shaped fingernails. Usually, people with iron deficiency have spoon-shaped fingernails but it is also one of the symptoms of vitamin C deficiency. Splinter haemorrhage which is characterized by vertical lines or red spots due to rupturing of weak blood vessels can also be a symptom of vitamin C.

5. Chronic Inflammation and Oxidative Stress

Vitamin C is vital in averting cellular damage by defusing oxidative stress and inflammation in the body which can cause many serious health hazards like heart diseases and diabetes. Having a low intake of vitamin C increases the chance of heart failure in a person with low blood pressure than the person with high blood pressure.

6. Persistent Iron Deficiency Anaemia

Vitamin C is important for iron absorption and that’s why iron deficiency anaemia often occurs due to low absorption of iron from plant-based foods. Also, vitamin C deficiency increases the risk of excessive bleeding which backs the occurrence of anaemia.

7. Sudden Weight Gain

One of the benefits of vitamin C is that it protects from obesity, regulates the release of fats from the fat cells, reduces stress hormones, and decreases inflammation. Low levels of vitamin C intake increases the chances of having body fat and belly fat, even in even-weighted individuals.

8. Weak Bones

One of the primary function of vitamin C is enhancing bone health and low levels of vitamin C can result in weakness in bones resulting in an increased risk of fractures and some cases osteoporosis. 

9. Bleeding Gums and Tooth Loss

Low levels of vitamin C cause weakness in gum tissues which cause blood vessels to bleed with the slightest irritation. A prolonged and chronic deficiency causes the gums to turn purple which eventually leads to falling put of teeth. 

10. Poor Immunity

Vitamin C is accumulated by various immune cell and it helps them fight infections and harmful pathogens. If there is a low vitamin C count in the body then it can hinder the immune system and cause illnesses like pneumonia.

Some other symptoms of vitamin C deficiency include slow healing of wounds, dry skin, easy bruising, swollen joints, fatigue, and poor mood. 

Consequences of Vitamin C Deficiency 

Vitamin C is very important in the production of collagen in our body which is essential for the growth and repair of our tissues. If our body lacks vitamin C then these tissues start to break down which gravely affects the health and repair functions in our body. Minor issues due to deficiency can be treated quickly but if the deficiency is chronic, unattended for more than three months, then it can result in major diseases like scurvy. 

Although to develop scurvy is rare but that doesn’t mean it’s the only condition that can occur due to vitamin C deficiency. People who are at risk of having diseases related to vitamin C deficiency are drug addicts and alcoholics, people indulging in poor diet habits or people who follow strict diet plans, people who suffer from digestive problems like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. 

Others who risk themselves daily of developing diseases from vitamin C deficiency are old people, pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers and smokers. Smoking restricts the absorption of vitamin C from foods and whatever vitamin C is gathered it is absorbed quickly by the body. 

Diagnosis of Vitamin C Deficiency

If you experience any of the above-mentioned symptoms it doesn’t necessarily mean you have vitamin C deficiency so self-diagnosis is not a viable option in this case. Only a doctor can diagnose you with Vitamin C deficiency and that too after careful and thorough examination.

The deficiency can be determined properly via a blood test, in fact-checking vitamin C levels through blood tests also helps in finding out if there are any other deficiencies in the body. For example, vitamin c is also necessary for the absorption of iron from food, so iron deficiency automatically occurs sometimes in people who are deficient in vitamin C. Sometimes x-rays and scans may also be suggested by the doctors to check bone thinning or other specific changes in the bone that might occur due to vitamin C deficiency. 

Treatment of Vitamin C Deficiency

Eating healthy and nutritious food is the best option to prevent Vitamin C deficiency and if the diet isn’t sufficient then vitamin C supplement must be taken to fill up space. After the deficiency is filled then the supplements can be stopped but a healthy and nutritious diet must be included in the lifestyle. 

Deficiency of vitamin C is not a serious matter so no need to panic if you are diagnosed with it, people usually make full recovery within days. Once medicines are started the symptoms go away within days or sometimes weeks depending on the prolonged time. Although treatment is available, it is rightly said that ‘prevention is better than cure’ because obviously when you eat right from the start then it will give you a healthy body and a long life and there will be very fewer chances of diseases to come near you.

One thought on “Vitamin C Deficiency Symptoms Diagnose Prevention & Treatment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *