A vitamin C deficiency put you at increased risk of gingivitis or early gum disease, skin problems like petechiae and purpura, osteoporosis and bone development problems. Even iron deficiency anemia can result from this deficiency. If you leave it untended, you may even wind up with scurvy in a few months’ time.
Vitamin C is a nutrient that’s crucial to the health of your body. You need it for normal growth and development, as well as to keep up the health of your body’s skin and bones and connective tissue. An immune-boosting nutrient, it helps with healing as well. No wonder then a deficiency can interfere with the optimal functioning of your body.
Because it is an antioxidant vitamin, vitamin C helps counter free radical damage responsible for aging and may even help ward off or lower risk of heart disease, cancer, and arthritis.
By getting in those recommended levels of vitamin C, you can sidestep many diseases. This could range from the seemingly harmless like brittle nails to the more severe like iron deficiency anemia. Typically very overt symptoms or problems because of a deficiency only appear after consistent inadequate intake over a prolonged period. As a rule of thumb, this will happen if daily intake is below 10 mg over several weeks. Here’s a ready and detailed reckoner of the potential problems you could face from a prolonged vitamin C deficiency.
1. Gingivitis And Dental Problems
Gingivitis or early-stage gum disease can crop up if you are not getting enough vitamin C. It results in the tissues surrounding your teeth getting infected. Here are some symptoms to spot this problem:
- Easily bleeding gums
- Gums that are tender
- Swollen gums
- Bad breath
A vitamin C deficiency may also cause your tooth enamel to weaken, putting you at increased risk of cavities.
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2. Iron Deficiency Anemia
Vitamin C, among other things, also helps your body better absorb iron. If you have a continued deficiency of the vitamin, you could also wind up with iron-deficiency anemia. Signs of this form of anemia include:
- Weakness or tiredness that is not usual
- Trouble with concentration/thinking
- Feeling lightheaded
- Pale skin
- Shortness of breath
- Brittle nails
- Pica or desire to eat non-food things like dirt, ice, or sand
- Soreness of the tongue
Anemia simply means poor quality of blood, It is insufficiency of red blood cells either of quality or quantity. Sometimes, the lack of vitamins like B12, folic acid and iron leads to this disorder.
3. Skin Problems Like Petechiae Or Purpura
Vitamin C plays such a central role in maintaining healthy connective tissue in the body, so not getting enough can start to show signs on your skin. You may develop blue or red spots on the shins or on other areas of your skin – these are called petechiae. You may also find purple patches or spots on the skin, in mucous membranes, and in the mouth – these are known as purpura. In addition, you may notice you develop bruises more easily than before.
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One of the most major diseases caused by iron deficiency is scurvy, though it is less common in the developing world where access to nutrition is not as much of a problem. But if you are someone who has food that’s limited in its variety, you might be at risk. Symptoms of scurvy usually occur after inadequate vitamin C intake for at least 3 months. Here’s what you should watch for:
- Weakness/tiredness all the time
- Joint/leg pain that’s severe
- Being irritable
- Feeling sad
- Bruising easily
- Petechiae (blue/red spots)
- Purpura (purple patches/spots)
- Swelling or bleeding in the gums
- Loosening of teeth, loss of teeth
- Corkscrew hairs
- Poor wound healing
- Thickening of the skin (hyperkeratosis) which may result in warts, corns, or calluses
Scurvy is a disease which occurs due to the deficiency of vitamin C. This disease can be treated with a simple mixture of aamchur and jaggery. Aamchur is a spice that enhances the taste of food with a healthy approach. It is a condiment made by sun drying mangoes.
5. Osteoporosis And Bone Problems
While scurvy causes joint pain in adults, it could lead to impaired bone development in babies and young children. They may experience symptoms like lower limb pain as a result of bleeding within the joints.
The Indian gooseberry, commonly known as amla, is an excellent source of vitamin C. Amla is a very important ingredient used in Ayurveda treatments because of its wellœknown remedies for many ailments. It also contains many minerals and vitamins like iron, phosphorus, calcium, carotene and vitamin B complex. The twit is also known for its antioxidant properties.
Structural collagen alterations and greater breakdown of bone result in swollen and painful joints and muscular pain in those with a severe vitamin C deficiency or scurvy. It may also result in your developing osteoporosis or weak bones that are prone to fracture or breakage. There could also be a link to osteoarthritis though research in that area is still very much a work in progress.
6. Other Problems Linked To A Vitamin C Deficiency
In addition to these diseases, you may also spot other problems that could even help you flag the problem early and ward off a more severe issue like scurvy or anemia. Here are some health issues that double up as signs of a vitamin C deficiency:
- Increased susceptibility to falling ill/catching infections
- Longer time for wounds to heal
- Splitting hair or dry hair
- Dry and scaly or rough skin
- Sluggish metabolism resulting in weight gain
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People With Poor Nutrition, Digestive Disorders, Smokers, The Elderly And Very Young At Risk
Those who are undergoing chemotherapy or have lost their appetite for other reasons, have anorexia, eat a poor diet with inadequate vitamin C, are pregnant or breastfeeding are more at risk of this particular problem. Smoking reduces your ability to absorb vitamin C from your diet, so smokers are at risk too. Also vulnerable are people with digestive disorders like Crohn’s disease, the elderly, drug or alcohol addicts, and young children and babies who aren’t getting enough vitamins.
Avoid A Deficiency By Ensuring You Have 75–90 mg Of Vitamin C Daily
Your body needs about 90 mg of vitamin C daily if you are an adult male and 75 mg if you are female. Pregnant women need 85 mg a day while lactating mothers require even more (120 mg). Anyone recovering from surgery or burns could also do with a little more vitamin C to aid healing. Smokers too can benefit from higher vitamin C intake. Get in your vitamin C easily from a wide range of foods including citrus fruit, tomatoes, green leafy vegetables, peppers, and even from fortified juices and cereals.
Foods That Are High in Vitamin C
Fresh fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of vitamin C and should prevent deficiency when consumed on a daily basis. Supplementing with vitamin C is not toxic but may cause unpleasant side effects at high doses.
Kakadu plums contain up to 5,300 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams, making it the richest known source of this vitamin. Just one plum delivers around 530% of the DV.
Just one-half cup of acerola cherries delivers 913% of the recommended DV for vitamin C. The fruit may even have cancer-fighting properties, although human-based research is lacking.
Rose hips provide 426 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams. Around six pieces of this fruit deliver 132% of the DV and encourage healthier-looking skin.
Green chili peppers contain 242 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams. Therefore, one green chili pepper delivers 121% of the DV, while one red chili pepper delivers 72%.
Guavas contain 228 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams. One guava fruit delivers 140% of the DV for this vitamin.
Yellow peppers contain the highest vitamin C concentration of all sweet peppers with 183 mg per 100 grams. One-half cup of sweet yellow peppers delivers 152% of the recommended DV.
Blackcurrants contain 181 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams. One-half cup of blackcurrants packs 112% of the DV for vitamin C and may help reduce chronic inflammation.
Thyme contains mopre vitamin C than most culinary herbs with 160 mg per 100 grams. One ounce of fresh thyme provides 50% of the DV for vitamin C. Thyme and other foods high in vitamin C boost your immunity.
Parsley contains 133 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams. Sprinkling two tablespoons of fresh parsley on your meal delivers 11% of the DV for vitamin C, which helps increase iron absorption.
Mustard spinach contains 130 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams. One cup of this leafy green provides 217% of the DV for vitamin C when raw, or 130% when cooked.
Kale contains 120 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams. One cup of raw kale delivers 89% of the DV for vitamin C, while a lightly steamed cup provides 59%.
Kiwis contain 93 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams. One medium-sized kiwi provides 79% of the DV for vitamin C, which benefits blood circulation and immunity.
Broccoli contains 89 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams. One-half cup of steamed broccoli provides 57% of the DV for vitamin C and may lower your risk of inflammatory diseases.
Brussels sprouts contain 85 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams. One-half cup of steamed Brussels sprouts provides 54% of the DV for vitamin C, which may improve your bone strength and function.
Lemons contain 77 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams, with one medium lemon delivering 92% of the DV. Vitamin C has potent antioxidant benefits and can keep your cut fruits and vegetables from turning brown.
Lychees contain 72 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams. One single lychee contains an average 7.5% of the DV for vitamin C, while a one-cup serving provides 151%.
American persimmons contain 66 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams. One American persimmon packs 18% of the DV for vitamin C.
Papaya contains 62 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams. One cup of papaya delivers 87 mg of vitamin C, which may help improve memory.
Strawberries contain 59 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams. One cup of strawberry halves delivers 89 mg of vitamin C. This nutritious fruit may help your heart and brain health.
Oranges contain 53 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams. One medium orange delivers 70 mg of vitamin C. Other citrus fruits, such as grapefruit, mandarins and limes, are also good sources of this vitamin.
Signs and Symptoms of Vitamin C Deficiency
Vitamin C is an essential nutrient that must be consumed regularly to prevent deficiency.
The most common risk factors for vitamin C deficiency are poor diet, alcoholism, anorexia, severe mental illness, smoking and dialysis.
While symptoms of severe vitamin C deficiency can take months to develop, there are some subtle signs to watch out for.
Here are the 15 most common signs and symptoms of vitamin C deficiency.
Vitamin C deficiency can cause the formation of small acne-like bumps on the arms, thighs or buttocks. However, these bumps alone are not enough to diagnose a deficiency.
Abnormally bent, coiled or corkscrew-shaped body hairs are a hallmark sign of vitamin C deficiency, but they may be difficult to detect, as these hairs are more likely to fall out.
Hair follicles contain many tiny blood vessels that can rupture due to a vitamin C deficiency, causing bright red spots to appear around the follicles.
Vitamin C deficiency is associated with spoon-shaped fingernails and red lines or spots underneath the nail bed.
Low intakes of vitamin C are associated with dry, sun-damaged skin, but these symptoms can also be caused by other factors.
Vitamin C deficiency weakens blood vessels, causing easy bruising. It’s often one of the first obvious signs of vitamin C deficiency.
Vitamin C deficiency interferes with tissue formation, causing wounds to heal more slowly. This is considered an advanced sign of deficiency, so other signs and symptoms would likely appear first.
Vitamin C deficiency often causes severe joint pain. In severe cases, bleeding can occur within the joints, causing painful swelling.
Vitamin C is important for bone formation, and deficiency can increase the risk of developing weak and brittle bones.
Red, bleeding gums are a common sign of vitamin C deficiency, and severe deficiency can even lead to tooth loss.
Vitamin C is an important nutrient for the immune system. Low vitamin C levels are linked to an increased risk of infection, while severe deficiency can cause death from infectious diseases.Vitamin C is an important nutrient for the immune system. Low vitamin C levels are linked to an increased risk of infection, while severe deficiency can cause death from infectious diseases.
Vitamin C deficiency may increase the risk of iron deficiency anemia by reducing iron absorption and increasing the likelihood of bleeding.
Signs of fatigue and poor mood can appear even with low-to-normal levels of vitamin C, but they quickly turn around with adequate vitamin C intake.
Low vitamin C intake has been linked to increased body fat in humans, but other factors may be involved, such as diet quality.
Regular consumption of antioxidants like vitamin C is associated with health benefits, while low intakes may increase inflammation and oxidative stress.