Vitamin C Deficiency | Causes, Symptoms & Treatment
What at symptoms of Vitamin C Deficiency?
Is Vitamin C Deficiency curable?
You might be having many such questions. Today I am going to help you with all the answers you are looking for.
Did you know that vitamin C cannot be produced or stored by the body? Although this water-soluble vitamin is one of the most essential components in your diet, it cannot be produced in the body naturally.
Also known as L-ascorbic acid, it is a crucial component required for the proper functioning of the circulatory system and good cellular growth. It is also needed to ensure the normal functioning of the growth and repair of tissues such as bone, skin, cartilage, blood vessels, ligaments, and the teeth.
Vitamin C is required for:
- Production of the protein needed to make tendons, skin, blood vessels and ligaments
- Form the scar tissues and heal wounds
- Fix and maintain the bones, cartilage, and teeth
- Help in the absorption of iron.
There is a risk of developing vitamin C deficiency if it is not included as part of your diet which ultimately leads to disruption of the bodily functions.
What is Vitamin C Deficiency?
The lack of vitamin C in the body is called Vitamin C Deficiency as it does not meet the required amount that is prescribed for normal growth and functioning of the body.
Vitamin C is the antioxidant which is able to destroy the free radicals in the body which are responsible for damaging the cells. If there is a deficiency for a prolonged amount of time, then it can lead to the risk of information of new collagen.
Without collagen in your body, the tissues in the body become weak and break down and further hamper your health. Such is its necessity in the body that it is required for iron absorption, wound healing and maintaining bone health. Scurvy is a disease which results due to vitamin C deficiency. Without vitamin C in the body, the body becomes vulnerable to various illnesses and colds as the immune system in the body becomes weak. (1)
Here is an informative video from Dr. Berg
Causes of Vitamin C Deficiency
Vitamin C deficiency occurs when the daily intake of vitamin C is not met. It happens mostly because people do not realize that there is a shortage in the recommended intake of vitamin C. For the proper functioning of the body one has to consume the required amount through diet or supplements.
Deficiency of vitamin C typically occurs through a poor diet which does not include vegetables and fruits. Another way to reduce the intake of vitamin C in the body is through incorrect methods of cooking. Most people are not aware that when food is smoked or cooked with dung or fuel it reduces the vitamin level which can cause oxidative stress. Oxidative stress causes damage to the cells. (2)
Symptoms of Vitamin C Deficiency
Poor skin and bone health are the common symptoms of vitamin c deficiency. Other symptoms are discussed below.
1. Dry Split Hair
The health of hair follicles is taken care of by the vitamin C intake in your body. A lush growth of hair indicates an intake of a balanced diet. But if the intake of vitamin C is deficient then there is dryness as well as thinning of hair with split hair. Vitamin C is also required for the absorption of iron without which there can be severe hair loss and reduced air growth.
2. Rough Dry Skin
Lack of collagen always leads to roughness and dryness of the skin. It is usually the first sign that the body signals when there is a deficiency of vitamin C. It also leads to the presence of several small and hard bumps on the face, upper arms, buttocks, and thighs along with wrinkling and premature aging of the skin.
The antioxidants present in vitamin C helps in protecting the skin from harmful UV rays and sunburns. It also helps to retain moisture and reduces the chances of dry skin.
3. Slow Wound Healing
The collagen in your body helps to heal the scar and wounds quickly. The production of collagen is reduced with lack of vitamin C in the body. Lack of vitamin C in your diet will lead to the slow healing process and longer bleeding as well as an impaired immune system.
4. Nose Bleed
The capillaries in the front of your nose function properly as long as the vitamin C intake is not deficient. If there is a lack of vitamin C in the body then the blood vessels in the nose become weak and fragile which causes nosebleed frequently.
The blood vessels remain strong through the presence of collagen in the body without which bursting of the blood vessels in the nose is a common phenomenon.
5. Leaky Gut
The deficiency of vitamin C can also affect the digestive system which leads to intestinal hyperpermeability also known as leaky gut. One of the manifestations of a leaky gut is an increased sensitivity to food.
The digestive system cannot digest many of the food that you intake along with frequent constipation, abdominal pain, diarrhea etc due to the lack of collagen in your system.
6. Swollen Gums
Frequent swelling of the gums along with mouth ulcers is an indication of a low level of vitamin C in the body. Vitamin C is vital for the production of collagen which is needed for good and healthy teeth and gums. Lack of this vitamin can lead to the risk of gum inflammation initially and then soft tissue damage along with tooth loss in the long run.
7. Weak Immune System
The immune system is able to function properly with the help of the intake of vitamin C. It is the immune system which protects us against diseases and infections and without the antioxidants from vitamin C our susceptibility to such diseases and infections increase.
8. Red Spot on Skin
If you are vitamin C deficient, you might notice red spots start appearing on the skin and around the hair follicles. The main reason behind this is, as the blood vessels become fragile they bleed easily under the skin. It can also lead to bleeding inside the eyes which blurs the vision of the eyes.
9. Bleeding Gums
Frequent bleeding of gums is another sign of vitamin C deficiency. If left unchecked can give rise to weak gum and tooth loss due to soft tissue damage in the gums. When the tissues in the gum become weak, the gums are prone to inflammation and bleeding easily. They could even turn purple and rotten in the advanced stage.
10. Easy Bruising
It is normal to bleed after a small injury as it means that the blood vessels under your skin has broken and leaked red blood cells. When there is a deficiency of vitamin C in the body there is excessive bleeding due to poor collagen production.
11. Painful & Swollen Joints
Another sign that the body throws up due to an insufficiency of vitamin C in the body is pain and swelling in the joints. It is caused by inflammatory arthritis due to the low level of collagen in the cartilage which can cause limping and difficulty in walking. It can develop rheumatoid arthritis if there are no changes to a healthier diet.
12. Red Spots on Fingernails
Another sign which is associated with vitamin C deficiency is spoon-shaped fingernail and spots or lines underneath the nail bed. It makes the nails thin and brittle.
13. Weak Bones
Vitamin C deficiency also leads to thinning of the bones which make them brittle as the collagen level is low in the body. It can even lead to osteoporosis and susceptible to fracture of spine, wrists, and hips etc.
14. Frequent Fatigue
When the body is low on vitamin C it can lead to low mood and fatigue. Low energy levels and quick exhaustion are also indicators of vitamin C deficiency.
There is a close link between vitamin C and iron deficiency as there is a low absorption of iron by the body when there is vitamin C deficiency. Lack of vitamin C and iron in the body can lead to lethargy, irritability or even depression over time.
How to Treat Vitamin C Deficiency
The treatment for vitamin C deficiency is very easy as one only needs to increase the intake of vitamin C rich foods in your diet. If it is in its mild form then you can start by simply changing your dietary habits.
Vitamin C is found in abundance in vegetable s and fruits and can be easily incorporated into your daily intake. At least 5 helpings of vegetables and fruits daily should be included in your diet. They can be consumed as salads, juice, cooked or raw veggies etc.
Vitamin C supplements are also commonly available for oral consumption which you choose to take as well. There are also many prepared foods with added vitamin C like cereals and juices readily available in the market.
If your condition is more severe and chronic, it is best to take the advice and treatment of a reputed doctor. With the right dosage of vitamin C supplements and dietician consultation, you will get rid of this deficiency.
It is pertinent to note that the required dosage of vitamin C differs on the basis of age, gender, and other health conditions. Also, smokers need more vitamin C than non-smokers.
The recovery period once treatment has started is fairly short as you will be able to see the improvement in a few days. There would be lesser mood swings, lethargy, pain, fatigue, and exhaustion in a few days while symptoms such as weakness, bleeding or bruising may take longer to heal.
Vitamin C Rich Foods
Vitamin C is easily available in the vegetables and fruits found in the market. The can be found in fruits such as
guava, lemon, papaya, kiwi fruit, orange, grapefruit, strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, Kakadu plums, pineapple, mango, lychee, persimmons, mandarin, cantaloupe, melon and vegetables like sweet pepper, spinach, kale, carrot, thyme, parsley, cabbage, Swiss chard, broccoli, asparagus, Brussels sprout, tomato, green pea, potato, cauliflower etc. Other sources of vitamin C are liver, paprika, and oysters.
Benefits of Vitamin C
1. Improves Iron Absorption
Iron is one of the most essential nutrients required by the body for its normal functioning and vitamin C helps in its absorption.
2. Boosts Immunity
Vitamin C helps in stimulating the immune system which further protects the body from infections and allergies. The healing process of a wound is also quickened with the help of vitamin.
3. Good Dental Health
Vitamin C is responsible for good dental health as it prevents swelling and bleeding of gums.
4. Keeps Skin Smooth and Healthy
Vitamin C helps in keeping the skin soft and supple. Without vitamin C the skin tends to become dry and rough. It helps in the production of elastin which protects, thickens and the texture of the skin. It helps in enhancing the skin glow.
5. Shiny Hair
Vitamin C improves the condition of the hair and makes it healthy, thick and strong. It also helps in the growth of new hair and prevention of dandruff and premature greying of hair.
6. Reduce Risk of Chronic Diseases
Vitamin C helps to strengthen the body’s defense system as it is a strong antioxidant. The antioxidants boost the immune system by protecting it from the free radicals in the body.
7. Reduce the risk of High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure can lead to the risk of heart diseases. High blood pressure is controlled by the intake of vitamin C by both adults who may or may not be suffering from high blood pressure.
8. Helps to Prevent Cancer
Research has proven that the chances of getting cancer can be reduced if you include vitamin C in your diet.
9. Helps in Prevention of Cataract
Intake of vitamin C helps in keeping the eyes healthy and prevents the onset of cataract.
10. Reduces the Risk of Allergies
Vitamin C helps in preventing allergies in the body as it reduces the release of histamine which causes allergies.
11. Helps in Regulation of Blood Sugar
Vitamin C has the capability to stimulate the insulin mechanism in the body and prevent the risk of diabetes.
12. Assists in Weight Loss
Vitamin C enhances metabolism in the body and helps in the oxidation of body fat while working out.