Vitamin C Deficiency – Causes, Symptoms, And Treatment

Vitamin C is also called ascorbic acid. It is important for the growth, formation, and repair of skin, bone, and connective tissue, which help to bind other organs and tissues together and includes ligaments, tendons, and blood vessels.

It is also important for normal blood vessels and blood function. Vitamin C helps to manage healthy gums and teeth. It helps the body to absorb iron, which is required to form red blood cells. Vitamin C helps to recover from wound heal and burn. Good sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, broccoli, potatoes, tomatoes, sweet peppers, and strawberries. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant. It protects the cells against free radical damage, which are by-products of normal cell activity, and participates in the chemical reactions within cells. Some of these reactions can lead to damage for a lifetime.


Symptoms of Vitamin C Deficiency

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Bumpy and Rough Skin

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Vitamin C is necessary for collagen production, which is protein for connective tissues such as skin, bones, hair, joints, and blood vessels.

When vitamin C levels are less, a skin condition called keratosis pilaris can develop.

This condition has bumpy chicken skin on the upper arms, buttocks, or thighs because of a buildup of keratin protein inside the pores.

Keratosis pilaris occurred by vitamin C deficiency commonly appears after 3-5 months of insufficient consumption and resolves with supplementation.

However, there are different causes of keratosis pilaris, so its presence is not sufficient for the diagnosis of deficiency.


Corkscrew-Shaped Body Hair

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Coiled shape or bent form hair growth is another cause of vitamin D deficiency because of a defect in protein structure.

Corkscrew-shaped hair is one of the hallmark signs of vitamin C deficiency but may not be clear, as these destroyed hairs are very likely to break off or fall out.

Hair irregularities often resolve within one month of treatment with enough amount of vitamin C.


Bright Red Hair Follicles

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Hair follicles on the skin surface of the skin have different small blood vessels that supply blood and nutrient to the part.

When the body has vitamin C deficiency, these small blood vessels become sensitive and break easily, leading to bright red spots around the hair follicles.

It is known as perifollicular hemorrhage as a good sign of severe vitamin C deficiency. Consuming vitamin C supplements resolves this symptom within two weeks.


Spoon-Shaped Fingernails with Red Lines or Spots

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Spoon-shaped nails are featured by their concave shape and have brittle and thin shapes.

They are very commonly linked with iron deficiency anemia but have been linked with vitamin C deficiency. Vertical lines or red spots in the nail bed, called splinter hemorrhage, may also present during vitamin C deficiency because of weak blood vessels that rupture easily.

While the visual formation of toenails and fingernails may help specify the possibility of vitamin C deficiency.


Damaged and Dry Skin

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Healthy skin consists of a large amount of vitamin C, especially in the epidermis or the outer skin layer. Vitamin C keeps skin healthy by saving it from oxidative damage occurred by pollutants and sun exposure like ozone or cigarette smoke. It also boosts collagen production, which keeps skin youthful and plump. High consumption of vitamin C is linked with good skin quality, while less consumption is linked with a 10% more risk of increasing dry and wrinkled skin. While damaged and dry skin can be connected to vitamin C deficiency, it can also lead to different factors, so these symptoms alone are not sufficient to diagnose.


Easy Bruising

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Bruising happens when blood vessels in the inner skip layer get ruptured, leading to blood leakage into the surrounding part. Easy bruising is a common sign of vitamin C deficiency since insufficient collage production leads to fragile blood vessels. Deficiency linked to bruises may cover a large part of the body or look like small, purple dots under the skin.

Easy bruising is often one of the first noticeable symptoms of the deficiency and should warrant further analysis of vitamin C levels.


Slow Healing Wounds

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Vitamin C is necessary for collagen formation and helpful for wound healing. According to research people with chronic and non-healing leg ulcers are significantly more likely to be deficient in vitamin C than those without chronic leg ulcers. In extreme cases of vitamin C deficiency, old wounds may even reopen, Raising the risk of infection. Slow wound healing is one of the advanced signs of deficiency and is commonly not seen till someone is getting a deficiency for several months.


Swollen, Painful Joints

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Since joints consist of collagen-rich connective tissue, they can also be impacted by vitamin C deficiency. There have been several reported cases of joint pain linked with vitamin C deficiency, often severe sufficient to cause difficulty walking or limping.

Bleeding within the joints can also happen in people who have vitamin C deficiency, causing swelling and more pain.


Weak Bones

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Vitamin C deficiency can also impact bone health. Low consumption increases the risk of osteoporosis and fracture risk. Research has discovered that vitamin C is essential for bone formation. Therefore, any deficiency can increase the bone loss rate. Kid’s skeletons may be impacted by vitamin C deficiency as they are still developing and growing.


Tooth Loss and Bleeding Gums

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Swollen, red, bleeding gums are another common sign of vitamin C deficiency. Without enough vitamin C, the gum tissue becomes fatigued and inflamed in blood vessels and causes quick bleeding.

Eventually, teeth can fall because of weak dentin and unhealthy gums, the calcified inner layer of teeth.


Poor Immunity

Research shows that vitamin C build-up inside different immune cells to help them manage the infection and destroy the ailment-causing pathogens.

Vitamin C deficiency is linked with a high risk of infection and poor immunity, including serious illnesses such as pneumonia.


Iron-deficiency Anemia

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Iron deficiency anemia and vitamin C often occur together. It has signs like dry skin, anemia, hair problems, headaches, and spoon-shaped fingernails. Low vitamin C also affects plant-based food absorption and metabolism.

Vitamin C deficiency also increases the risk of extra bleeding, which can lead to anemia. If iron deficiency anemia persists for more time without obvious causes, it may be wise to check the levels of vitamin C.


Poor Mood and Fatigue

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These two are the very early signs of vitamin C deficiency. These symptoms can even come before a full blow deficiency growth. While irritability and fatigue may be some of the primary signs to appear, they commonly resolve after some days of enough consumption or within 24 hours of high dose supplementation.


Unexplained Weight Gain

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Vitamin C also helps to save against obesity by managing the fat release from fat cells, lower stress hormones, and inflammation.

Low blood levels of vitamin C have been connected to more belly fat, even in regular-weight individuals. While extra body fat alone is not sufficient to show a vitamin C deficiency, it may be better to examine different factors.


Oxidative Stress and Chronic Inflammation

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Vitamin C is one of the body’s most essential water-soluble antioxidants. It helps to stop cellular damage by balancing free radicals that can cause inflammation and oxidative stress in the body. Inflammation and oxidative stress have been linked to several chronic illnesses, including diabetes and heart disease, therefore low levels are likely helpful.


Reasons that Cause Vitamin C Deficiency

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Vitamin C deficiency happens because of an imbalanced diet. It is because the human body does not naturally synthesize vitamin C, and it has to be provided from external sources. It primarily concerns food consumption, including fruits, vegetables, and fortified foods.

It is why most causes of vitamin C deficiency from improper diet. Some of these are as follows:

A diet with low vitamin C fruits and vegetables

A limited diet because of health conditions like allergies, and a weak digestive system

Mental health problems and disorders like anorexia

Old age

Apart from that, there can be many causes of vitamin C deficiency. These include health conditions, treatments, and habits that lower the body’s ability to absorb nutrients. Some includes:

  • Intake of illegal drugs and high amounts of alcohol
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Chemotherapy
  • Smoking
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Prolonged diarrhea
  • Pregnancy
  • Surgery


How does Vitamin C Help?

Manage High Blood Pressure

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Around one-third of American-aged people suffer from high blood pressure. High blood pressure causes you risk of heart problems, the main cause of death worldwide.

Research has discovered that vitamin C may help to reduce blood pressure in both those with or without high blood pressure. Furthermore, people with high blood pressure should not depend on vitamin C alone for treatment.


May Decrease Risk Of Heart Disease

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Heart disease is the main cause of death around the world. Several factors raise the risk of heart ailments, including more blood pressure, low HDL cholesterol, and high triglyceride. Vitamin C may lower the risk factors, which may lower heart disease risk.

However, scientists were not sure whether people who had taken vitamin C-rich foods also followed a healthy lifestyle than the people who consumed supplements. Thus, it remains not clear whether the differences were due to other aspects of vitamin C in their diet.


May Lower Blood Uric Acid Levels and Stop Gout Attacks

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Gout is a kind of arthritis that impact around 4% of American adults. It is very painful and has inflammation in joints, especially those of the toes. People with gout experience sudden severe pain attacks and swelling. Gout signs appear when there is more uric acid present in the blood. Uric acid is a waste product created by the body. At high levels, it may crystallize and accumulate in the joints.

Many studies have proven that vitamin C may help to lower uric acid in the blood and save against gout attacks.


Helps Control Iron Deficiency

Iron is an essential nutrient that has different functions in the body. It is essential for creating red blood cells and provide in the body.

Vitamin C supplements can help to boost iron absorption from the diet. Vitamin C helps in changing iron that is not absorbed properly, like a plant-based source like iron, into a type that is easy to absorb.


Boosts Immunity

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One of the main reasons people consume vitamin C supplements is to promote their immunity, as vitamin C is important for the immune system.

First, vitamin C aids to boost the white blood cells exhibited called phagocytes and lymphocytes, which help to save the body against infection.

Second, vitamin C helps these white blood cells function very effectively while saving them from harm by possible dangerous molecules, like free radicals.

Third, vitamin C is an important part of the skin’s defense system. It is actively sent to the skin, where it can act as an antioxidant and help strengthen the barriers to the skin.


Promote Your Memory And Thinking With Age

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Dementia is a broad term utilized to define symptoms of memory and poor thinking. It involves over 35 million people around the world and commonly occurs among older people.

Research recommends that inflammation and oxidative stress near the brain, nerves, and spine can raise the dementia risk.

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant. Low levels of this vitamin get the impaired capacity to think and remember.

Furthermore, many studies have shown that people experiencing dementia may have fewer blood levels of vitamin C.


Unproven Claims Regarding Vitamin C

While vitamin C has different scientifically verified benefits, it also provides several undiscovered claims supported by either weak proven or without evidence at all.

Here are a few unproven claims regarding vitamin C:


Prevents The Common Cold

While vitamin C appears to lower the severity of cold and recovery time by 8% in 8% of adults and 14% in children, it does not stop them.


Lower Cancer Risk

A handful of research has connected vitamin C consumption to a reduced risk of different cancers. However, much research has discovered that vitamin C does not impact the risk of growing cancer.


Protects Against Eye Disease

Vitamin C has been connected to a lowered risk of eye diseases like age-linked macular degeneration and cataracts. However, vitamin C supplements have zero effect or may even lead to harm.


May Cause Lead Toxicity

People with lead toxicity occur because of lower vitamin C levels, there is no strong proof from human research that shows vitamin C can treat lead toxicity.


Treatment for Vitamin C Deficiency

You can either change vitamin C food sources in your diet or take vitamin C supplements with expert guidance.

Consumption of foods rich in vitamin C

It is perhaps a very natural and suggested way to treat vitamin C deficiency.


Through Vitamin C Supplements

Supplements are another way of vitamin C deficiency. Supplements are the best way to get temporary relief. Nonetheless, in the long run, it is good to manage a balanced diet.


How to Prevent Vitamin C Deficiency?

The easiest and best way to stop vitamin C deficiency is by promoting foods with rich vitamins. The suggestion of vitamin C deficiency is:

  • 75 mg orally per day for female
  • 90 mg orally once a day for male
  • An extra 35 mg/day for smokers

Five servings of vegetables and fruits will assure that you get the recommended level from the day. Stopping vitamin deficiency will also help to manage another disease.


Foods that Prevent Vitamin C Deficiency?

Kakadu Plums

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The Kakadu plum belongs to the Australian native superfood having 100 times more vitamin C than the oranges. It has more concentration of vitamin C, having around 5300 mg every 100 grams. Just one plum packs 481 mg of vitamin C, which is 530% of the DV. It also has rich vitamin E, potassium, and lutein antioxidants, which may help eye health.

Acerola Cherries

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Eating acerola cherries also helps to fight vitamin C deficiency. It provides 822 mg of vitamin C.


Rose Hips

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The rosehip is a sweet, tangy, and small fruit from the rose plant. It has more vitamin C. Around 6 rose hips offer 119 mg of vitamin C or 132% of the daily value. Vitamin C is necessary for collagen synthesis, which helps skin integrity as you age.


Chili Peppers

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It is another food to fight vitamin C deficiency. It provides 109 mg of vitamin C or 121% of the daily value. Moreover, chili peppers have high capsaicin, the compound that provides a hot taste. Capsaicin may also lower inflammation and pain.



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Prevent vitamin c deficiency with guavas. One single gave 126 mg of vitamin C. It provides rich antioxidant lycopene.


Sweet Yellow Peppers

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Vitamin C consists of bell peppers or sweet raises as they mature. A 75gm of yellow peppers offers 13 mg of vitamin C or 152% of the DV, which is double the amount present in green peppers. Eating sufficient vitamin C is necessary to prevent cataract progression.



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One-half cup of blackcurrants consists of 101 mg of vitamin C or 112% of DV. Antioxidant flavonoids called anthocyanins provide them with dark and rich color.



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Fresh thyme provides more vitamin C than oranges and high vitamin C concentration of all the other edible herbs. One ounce of fresh thyme offers 45 mg of vitamin C, which is 50% of the daily value. Sprinkle 1-2 tablespoons of fresh thyme over your meal, including 3.5-7 mg of vitamin C diet, which can strengthen immunity and help to treat the infection.

While thyme is a famous remedy for respiratory conditions and sore throats, it also has high vitamin C, which helps to boost immune health, create antibodies, and bacteria, kill the virus, and clear infected cells.


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Two tablespoons of fresh parsley consist of 10g of vitamin C, offering 11% of the suggested daily value. Along with different leafy greens, parsley is a good source of plant-based and nonheme iron.

Vitamin C promotes non-heme iron absorption. It helps to stop and treat iron deficiency anemia.


Mustard Spinach

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Mustard spinach also helps to overcome vitamin C deficiency. One cup of raw and chopped mustard spinach offers 195 mg of vitamin C or 217% of the daily value. Even though the heat from cooking reduces the vitamin C content present in foods and one cup of cooked mustard green still offers 117 mg of vitamin C.



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Kale belongs to cruciferous vegetables. One cup of chopped raw kale offered 80 mg of vitamin C or 89% of the daily value. It also provides high quantities of vitamin K, zeaxanthin, and carotenoids lutein.

While cooking these vegetables lowers their vitamin C content, one research discovered that frying, boiling, or steaming leafy greens helps to release extra antioxidants. These possible antioxidants may help to lower chronic inflammatory ailment.


Brussels Sprouts

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Eating brussels sprouts also helps to prevent vitamin C deficiency. One-half cup of brussels sprouts (cooked) provides 49 mg or 54% of the daily value for vitamin C.

It also provides high fiber, vitamin A, folate, vitamin K, potassium, and manganese.



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The vitamin C present in lemon juice also works as an antioxidant. When vegetables and fruits are cut, the enzyme called polyphenol oxidase is exposed to oxygen. It induces oxidation and changes the food brown. Applying lemon juice to the exposed surfaces act as a shield, preventing the browning process.



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Try orange when you are experiencing vitamin C deficiency. A medium orange of 70 mg of vitamin C, which is 78% of the daily value. Widely consumed, oranges make up a significant portion of dietary vitamin C consumption. Other citrus fruits can also help to meet your vitamin C requirement.


Treatment / Management

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Direct replacement of vitamin C is standard, with up to 300 mg every day for kids and 500 mg -1000 mg daily for adults. The end of replacement is one month or upon resolution of clinical results. Alternative treatment plants for adults have 1-2g for up to 3 days followed by 500 mg every day for one week followed by 100 mg every day for up to 3 months. Additionally, to instant supplementation, give knowledge to the patient about lifestyle modification to assure enough consumption and suggestion cessation of alcohol and use of tobacco.

In the deficiency absence, everyday requirements are up to 45 mg every day in kids, 90 mg daily for males, 75 mg every day for females, and up to 120 mg every day for lactating mothers.


The bottom line

Vitamin C is a type of water-soluble vitamin that must be taken from diet or supplements. It has been linked to several impressive health benefits, like promoting antioxidant levels, reducing blood pressure, saving against gout attacks, boosting immunity, and increase iron absorption, and lower heart disease and dementia. Overall, vitamin C supplements are the best and simple way to promote vitamin C consumption.

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