Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that plays many essential roles in our body therefore its deficiency can lead to many common health problems. And since the human body cannot store it, vitamin C deficiency is very common than you might think.
While severe vitamin C deficiency (known as Scurvy) can take months to develop and is fairly uncommon, but there is still a very possibility that you still might be lacking on Vitamin C without any severe symptom.
Studies have clearly shown that many people have low levels of vitamin C, which can be harmful to your overall health and wellness even if you are not deficient very much. A study published in PLoS ONE Journal in Dec 2011, shows that about 74% in north India and 46% from south India was deficient in Vitamin C. And only 11% in the north and 26% in the south met the criteria for adequate levels of vitamin C and was more prevalent in men, with increasing age.
If you are wondering that you are getting enough vitamin C or not, here are the 10 most common signs and symptoms to watch out.
Frequently Falling sick (weak Immunity): Vitamin C deficiency is directly associated with the poor immune system as it plays a very important role in immunity. It helps stimulate the production of white blood cells (also called fighter cells) that fights bacteria and viruses as part of the immune response. As a potent antioxidant, vitamin C also protects the health of immune cells by fighting against free- radicals so that they can work efficiently to prevent infections.
Thus its deficiency can negatively impact your immune system by weakening it. The frequent occurrence of infections or inflammation like the flu, bladder infection like UTIs, fever, or sore throat including serious illnesses like pneumonia is a sign of a weakened immune system. You can boost your immunity by adding more vitamin C rich fruits and vegetables in your diet.
- Slow Wound Healing: When we get injured, our body needs collagen protein to repair itself. It plays a role in the stage of repairing the skin. Vitamin C deficiency slows the rate of collagen formation thus causes wounds to heal more slowly. In severe deficiency, old wounds may even reopen and increases the risk of infection.
- Poor Dental Health (Swollen or Bleeding Gums, Tooth Loss): Red, swollen and bleeding gums are the most common symptom of vitamin C deficiency. Your gum tissues are made up of collagen protein and vitamin C is very crucial for collagen production. Without enough vitamin C, your gum tissue becomes weakened, inflamed, and eventually begin to bleed. Swollen gums are also a result of inflammation, a process that vitamin C helps prevent as an antioxidant. A deficiency would also be a loss of antioxidant protection. Vitamin C also helps with wound healing, so a deficiency means bleeding gums won't heal as quickly.
Easy Bruising: Bruising is also a very common sign in fact the first obvious sign of vitamin C deficiency. It is patches that appear on the skin when tiny blood vessels or capillaries break under the skin. The patches are usually dark bluish, purple coloured, brownish, or black coloured.
Poor collagen production due to vitamin C deficiency causes weak blood vessels under the skin, which easily gets rupture, causing blood to leak into the surrounding areas and leads to bruising.
Poor Bone Health (Weak Bones, Joint Pain): Vitamin C deficiency can also affect bone health. It plays a critical role in bone formation, as the cartilage in your bones and joints is largely made of collagen and vitamin C is important for collagen production. so a deficiency can result in less padding between bones and achy joints which flags the inflammation, swelling, and joint pain.
Since vitamin C plays a critical role in bone formation, so a deficiency can increase the rate of bone loss which increases the risk of bone fracture, osteoporosis, and bone loss. Consuming enough vitamin C allows your body to produce the collagen it needs to have healthy, strong joints, and well-formed bones.
Poor Skin Health (Dry, Damaged, Bumpy and wrinkled Skin): Vitamin C is a normal skin constituent that is found at high levels in both the dermis and epidermis (outer layer of skin). The antioxidant properties of vitamin C and its role in collagen synthesis make vitamin C a vital molecule in maintaining good skin health. It affects skin health in many ways.
First, Vitamin C antioxidant activity protects against Free-radicals damage induced by Sun ultraviolet (UV) light exposure. Such oxidative damage can lead to changes in skin structure. Second, it regulates the synthesis of the structural protein collagen by turning on fibroblasts, which helps improve the appearance of fine lines. It also helps slow the breakdown of collagen, preserving skin’s structure. Third, it decreases the risk of dry skin and promotes the synthesis of barrier lipids, which makes skin more plump and youthful.
so it's no surprise that a lack of vitamin C is associated with dry, damaged, and wrinkled skin—or a daily dose of vitamin C will keep your skin looking healthy and youthful.
- Frequent nosebleeds: Nosebleeds occur when the tiny blood vessels in the nose burst, so frequent nosebleeds are a sign of weak blood vessels in the nose which are strengthened by collagen protein. Vitamin C deficiency can result in weakened blood vessels, causes them to erupt and create nosebleeds frequently.
- Dry, and Damaged Hair: Collagen gives the hair its necessary strength. When you are low on C your collagen production can pay the price, leading to weak and split the hair that falls out easily. While people with severe vitamin C deficiency grow hair that grows in a very unusual and fragile corkscrew pattern (bent or coiled shapes) that breaks very easily due to defects in the protein structure of hair as it grows. However, it may not be obvious, as these damaged hairs are more likely to break off or fall out. So if your hair used to be thick, lush, and healthy but is now thin and fragile, you may have a very vitamin C deficiency.
- Unexplained Weight Gain: Many research studies have found a link between low levels of vitamin C and higher amounts of body fat, especially belly fat. Low serum vitamin C has been linked to higher amounts of abdomen (belly) fat, even in normal-weight individuals. Vitamin C may also play a role in fat metabolism by regulating the release of fat from fat cells to utilize as energy, reduces the stress hormones, and reducing inflammation.
Always Tired and Cranky: Fatigue, irritability, and poor mood are the earliest and very subtle symptoms that you are running low in vitamin C which can even appear even before a complete deficiency develops. One Korean study, published in the Journal of Nutrition, done on 141 office workers concluded that supplementing with vitamin C (10gm intravenously) made them feel less tired within 2 hours. This effect lasted for the next 24 hours.
Simultaneously poor immunity and anaemia (due to iron deficiency) can also prompt this condition.
Receiving the proper nutrients is a critical component of achieving and maintaining optimal health. Many people do not, however. Consequently, they tend to experience adverse consequences, such as sickness, fatigue, and more. Vitamin C deficiency, specifically, has several distinct warning signs and symptoms including a weak immunity, dry and damaged skin, fatigue, joint pain, swollen gums, easy bruising, Damaged and split hair, poor dental health, etc. However, adding the foods rich in vitamin C can help resolve or greatly reduce many of these signs and symptoms.