Causes of Vitamin C Deficiency

Vitamin C has to be added or supplemented in our daily diet, as vitamin C is not synthesized in our bodies like that of animals. This vitamin is very important for most of our bodily functions.

The deficiency of this vitamin causes scurvy. Vitamin C helps in protein synthesis, deficiency of this may result in swollen or bleeding gums and may lead to gingivitis, nosebleeds, anemia, severe joint pain, dry skin, etc. You can check the levels of vitamin C by conducting blood tests and bone density tests. By consuming foods rich in vitamin C, like broccoli, orange, kiwi, strawberries, etc., and taking vitamin supplements, you can replenish your deficient vitamin C.

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Over the last two decades, new details have emerged regarding the differences in its intake by oral and intravenous modes. Nonetheless, vitamin C deficiency remains largely unknown and poorly addressed in many segments of the population. The article aims to address the issue of vitamin C deficiency prevalent and examines ways to maintain the right dosage for a healthy life.

What is Vitamin C deficiency?

Vitamin C deficiency, more commonly known as Scurvy, is caused by a reduced dietary intake of particular citrus fruits and other fruits and vegetables. In the event of a reduced dietary intake, our body can have issues with the production of three protein synthesis:

  • Collagen synthesis

  • Catecholamine synthesis

  • Carnitine biosynthesis

These three protein synthesis play a uniquely vital role in breaking down bodily functions. Symptoms of vitamin C deficiencies can be attributable to any of the three synthesis mentioned above.

How much Vitamin C does your Body Need?

As humans, we can’t make vitamin C, so we must get it through our diet. The question arises: How much vitamin C do we need? The recommended dietary allowance for healthy nonsmoking adults (including athletes) is 60 milligrams per day of vitamin C. This minimum intake of the deficiency of which vitamin causes Scurvy. Research from the National Institute of Nutrition in India, suggests 120 milligrams per day as the appropriate intake. This will reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer, and 200 milligrams per day may reduce the risk of cataracts. This is the amount needed to saturate body tissues with vitamin C. Remember that vitamin C is most essential to your eyes than any other organ in our body.

Symptoms of Vitamin C Deficiency

There are a number of clear telltale signs of deficiency of vitamin c. If you suffer from any of the following symptoms, chances are that you may suffer from the lack of vitamin c:

  • Nosebleeds

Nosebleeds are not nice, that’s for sure. If you get them often, it could be an indication that the blood vessels in your nose are naturally weaker, or it could be a sign of vitamin C deficiency. Vitamin C helps your body produce collagen, which helps to strengthen your blood vessels. The less vitamin C you have in your body, the more likely you are to have weaker blood vessels. A case of regular nosebleeds could be a strong indication of weaker blood vessels as a result of vitamin C deficiency.

  • Sore, Bleeding or Swollen Gums

You might mistake the symptom for gingivitis at first, but if you have a healthy oral routine and you see no improvement in your gums, it’s probably linked to a lack of vitamin C. Like in the case of nosebleeds, collagen is something your gums also need to stay healthy, and vitamin C directly plays a role in the production of collagen. If your body lacks collagen, your gums won’t heal properly. Vitamin C also has antioxidant properties, so it will combat the swelling and inflammation in the gums.

  • Anemia or Iron Deficiency

Iron is an important nutrient that has a variety of functions. It is essential for making red blood cells (RBCs) and transporting oxygen throughout the body. Vitamin C plays an important role in absorbing iron from your diet. It assists in converting iron that is poorly absorbed, such as plant-based sources of iron, into a form that is easier to absorb. Vitamin C is critical for individuals on a meat free diet as meat is one of the sources of iron.

Other symptoms of vitamin C deficiency include:

  • Dry skin

  • Splitting hair

  • Swelling and discoloration of your gums

  • Sudden and unexpected bleeding from your gums

  • Nosebleeds

  • Poor healing of wounds

  • Problems fighting infections

  • Bleeding into joints, causing severe joint pains

  • Changes in your bones

  • Tooth loss

  • Weight loss

Tests for Vitamin C Deficiency

Testing for vitamin C deficiencies is a relatively simple process. In most cases, a doctor will advise the the following pathology tests:

  • A blood test is a simple yet effective way to test vitamin C deficiency.

  • An iron deficiency test can confirm low iron (or anemia) which is a symptom of vitamin C deficiency.

  • An X-ray test can detect low bone density which is a strong indication of vitamin C deficiency.

Treatment for Vitamin C Deficiency

Treatment for vitamin C deficiency can be either through replacing the vitamin C in your diet or by supplements.

  • Intake of foods rich in vitamin C

This is perhaps the most natural and recommended way to treat vitamin C deficiency.

  • Through vitamin C supplements

Supplements are another way to treat vitamin C deficiency. Supplements are a great way to achieve temporary relief. Nonetheless, in the long-run it’s best to maintain a balanced diet.

Common Sources Of Vitamin C

Our body does not produce or store the water-soluble vitamin C. We need to replenish our supply of vitamin C every day – and the best source is from fruits and vegetables. The list of fruits and vegetables mentioned below can easily help you reach the recommended 120 milligrams – 200 milligrams per day.

Food Item

Milligram of Vitamin C

Broccoli (100 gram)

160

Green Pepper (half)

50

Potatoes (2 medium)

30

Banana (1)

10

Grapefruit (1)

40

Orange (1)

60

Cantaloupe (1)

70

Kiwi (1)

75

Strawberries (1)

85

How to Prevent Vitamin C Deficiency?

The best and easiest way to prevent vitamin C deficiency is by increasing intake of foods rich in the vitamin. The recommended intake for preventing vitamin C deficiency is:

  • 75 mg orally once a day for women

  • 90 mg orally once a day for men

  • An additional 35 mg/day for smokers

Five servings of fruits and vegetables (mentioned above) will ensure that you attain the recommended level through the day. Preventing vitamin deficiency will also go a long way in helping to keep many other diseases at bay.

The Bottom Line

A recent report by National Nutrition Network indicates that almost 34% of the Indian population suffers from vitamin C deficiency. Eating the right food is the best way to avoid disease caused by deficiency of vitamin c. Infuse a healthy dose of fruits and colored vegetables into your diet. The best way to start your day is by drinking a glass of orange juice of a banana. In fact, you should avoid aerated or soft drinks altogether, and while you are at it; give yourself the much needed health insurance to protect you and your family from any financial contingencies that may arise.

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