10 Common Signs You Need to Boost Your Vitamin C Intake
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 more common than you think.
While severe vitamin C deficiency (known as Scurvy) can take months to develop and is fairly uncommon, there is still a possibility that you may be lacking adequate levels of vitamin C in your body without showing any symptoms.
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% of the population in north India and 46% of the people in south India were 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.
Signs and Symptoms of vitamin C Deficiency
If you are wondering that you are getting enough vitamin C or not, here are the ten most common signs and symptoms to watch out for.
Frequently Falling sick (weak Immunity): vitamin C deficiency is directly associated with a poor immune system as it plays a very important role in building 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 to 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 begins 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 of that means it will cause the gums to heal slowly or not at all.
Easy Bruising: Bruising is also a very common sign, in fact, the first obvious sign of vitamin C deficiency. When tiny blood vessels or capillaries break under the skin due to the deficiency, patches will appear on the skin. The patches are usually dark bluish, purple coloured, brownish, or even black in colour.
Poor collagen production due to vitamin C deficiency causes weak blood vessels under the skin, which easily get ruptured, causing blood to leak into the surrounding areas, leading 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. A deficiency of this micronutrient can result in less padding between bones and achy joints, which flags 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 further raises the risk of bone fracture, osteoporosis, and arthritis. 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 in high levels in both the dermis and epidermis layers of the skin. The antioxidant properties of vitamin C and its role in collagen synthesis make vitamin C a vital molecule in maintaining good skin health. Deficiency of the same results in dry, damaged, and early aging of the skin.
vitamin C antioxidant activity protects against free-radical damage induced by the sun's ultraviolet (UV) light exposure. Such oxidative damage can lead to changes in the skin structure. It also 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 the skin’s structure.
Additionally, it decreases the risk of dry skin and promotes the synthesis of barrier lipids, which makes the skin more plump and youthful. So it's no surprise that a lack of vitamin C is associated with dry, damaged, and wrinkled skin. vitamin C deficiency also causes scurvy. 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, causing them to erupt and create nosebleeds frequently.
- Dry, and Damaged Hair: Collagen gives the hair its necessary strength. When you are low on vitamin C, your collagen production can pay the price, leading to weak and damaged hair, which falls out easily. People with severe vitamin C deficiency have their hair grow in a very unusual and fragile corkscrew way (bent or coiled shape) that breaks very easily due to defects in the protein structure of the hair. However, it may not be obvious, as these damaged hair are more likely to break off or fall out. So if your thick, luscious, and healthy hair has now grown thin, fragile, and damaged lately, you may have a very severe case of vitamin C deficiency.
- Unexplained Weight Gain: Several 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 among normal-weight individuals. vitamin C may also play a role in fat metabolism by regulating the release of fat from the fat cells to utilize it as energy. This further reduces the stress hormone levels in the body along with inflammation.
- Always Tired and Cranky: Fatigue, irritability, and poor mood are the earliest and very subtle symptoms of vitamin C deficiency. 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 anemia (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, however, lack enough nutrition. 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. If your food falls short of meeting your vitamin C requirements, try out Wellbeing Nutrition's Daily Greens, which contains this essential micronutrient.
Multivitamins made from 39 farm-fresh greens, veggies, fruits and anti-oxidant rich superfoods, Daily Greens is a deliciously effervescent tablet. Drop the tablet in a glass of water, watch it fizz, and drink it all up. This will definitely fill all the gaps in your nutrition!
- Prevalence and Risk Factors for vitamin C Deficiency in North and South India: A Two Centre Population Based Study in People Aged 60 Years and Over, Ravilla D. Ravindran,Praveen Vashist,Sanjeev K. Gupta,Ian S. Young,Giovanni Maraini,Monica Camparini,R. Jayanthi,Neena John,Kathryn E. Fitzpatrick,Usha Chakravarthy,Thulasiraj D. Ravilla,Astrid E. Fletcher, PLOS One, 2011, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0028588, (https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article/comments?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0028588)
- vitamin C Deficiency, Luke Maxfield; Jonathan S. Crane, Stat Pearls, 2020, (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493187/)
- Factors Affecting vitamin C Status and Prevalence of
Deficiency: A Global Health Perspective, Anitra C. Carr and Sam Rowe, Nutrients Journal, 2020 (https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/12/7/1963/pdf)
- Scurvy-Reemergence of nutritional deficiencies, Daniel Léger, Canadian Family Physician Journal, 2008, (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2567249/)
- The Role of Vitamins and Minerals in Hair Loss: A Review, Hind M. Almohanna, Azhar A. Ahmed, John P. Tsatalis, and Antonella Tosti, Dermatology and Therapy, 2019 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6380979/)