It can happen to anyone.
No matter how healthy your diet is, and how much vitamin C you take, we all have some periods where we simply throw our healthy diet out of the window.
And after a while, symptoms emerge showing that our body has vitamin C deficiency.
I know most people worry about vitamin D deficiency because of very little sources for the sunshine vitamin, but vitamin C deficiency is also a common condition.
For me, one of the first symptoms is dental conditions.
The moment I get some dental condition in my mouth, including bleeding gums, I know I have vitamin C deficiency.
Vitamin C is one of the crucial vitamins that our body needs in order to work.
Essential for our body wellbeing, vitamin C is often called the immune vitamin.
When you absorb less vitamin C than needed, you immune system goes down, and autoimmune diseases and illnesses emerge.
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How Much Vitamin C You Need?
Before I go through the warning signs of vitamin C, I must point to the dose you actually need.
Word of caution: pregnant and breast-feeding women need much more vitamin C than the recommended daily value.
Now, for children between the age of 1 and 10 years, the recommended daily dose is 30mg of vitamin C per day.
That dose goes up to 35mg for children between 11 and 14 years old. Adults and children over 15 years old need a minimum of 40mg of vitamin C per day.
Bear in mind, those are the minimal doses.
You can slightly increase the dosage, but do not overdose yourself, as there you can overdose with vitamin C and other symptoms will emerge.
Now, onto the symptoms of vitamin C deficiency.
- As I mentioned previously, the dental condition is common symptom of vitamin C deficiency. Everything from bleeding gums, deterioration of the gums, periodontal problems, and unhealthy teeth. Vitamin C is crucial for the health of your teeth and gums, and once you are not getting enough of it, your mouth begins to react. Scurvy is a term that was used for mariners who were at the sea for a long period of time and had no access to healthy nutrients. They were having problems with their teeth, and the term scurvy emerged for usage of vitamin C deficiency.
- Dry skin and hair are other problems that occur when your body is not getting enough vitamin C. You will notice a change in the hair as it will lose its volume. Your shiny and voluminous hair may become dry and not so good looking. As for the skin, no matter how much moisture products you use, your skin will be dry.
- Bruises are another warning sign, especially if they occur easily. People with vitamin C deficiency tend to bruise easily, signaling that your body’s chemistry needs improvement. Aside from bruising, people lacking vitamin C will also have problems with healing of wounds.
- Fatigue is another alarming symptom. You will get tired easily, your energy levels are low, and you will simply do not have the will for doing much. Chronic fatigue can be a symptom for many other illnesses, so it is sometimes hard to point just to vitamin C deficiency.
- If you are acting as if you are in PMS (this is for the women out there), and you are not, chances are you need more vitamin C. Constant mood changes are an accompanying factor of vitamin C deficiency. You might become irritable or short tempered, but do not worry, it can all be fixed once you start taking more vitamin C.
- I know some of you would love to shed some pounds out of their body, but unknown weight loss is not always a good thing. If you are not getting enough vitamin C, you will experience sudden weight loss for which you cannot find a proper explanation.
- Last, but not least, chronic joint pain is a sign to check your vitamin C levels. I mentioned bruises and constant bleeding accompany your lack of vitamin C, but the bleeding sometimes happens within joints causing severe pain.
Risk Groups for Vitamin C Deficiency
As I mentioned at the beginning, vitamin C deficiency is something that can happen to anyone.
However, there are groups of people that have a higher risk.
- People dependent on drugs and alcohol
- People trying restrictive diets on a regular basis
- If you do not eat fresh fruits and vegetables on a daily basis
- Patients with medical conditions that affect their digestion ability, for example Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis
- Smokers, as smoking affects the absorption of vitamin C
- Older people sticking to a less varied diet
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women
The best thing to do once you notice warning signs of vitamin C deficiency is to check with your physician.
Yes, most of the symptoms might look vague, and common for other conditions as well. However, that doesn’t mean you should ignore them.
Treatment for vitamin C deficiency is usually simple, and that includes consuming more vitamin C rich foods.
Avoiding the problem, and long term vitamin C deficiency can lead to following complications:
- Gallbladder disease
- High blood pressure
Is there something like too much vitamin C?
We all want to avoid vitamin C deficiency. But you can also get too much vitamin C.
That happens when you are consuming vitamin C supplements.
Possible complications of taking too much vitamin C supplements include:
- Abdominal cramps and bloating
- Frequent and intense headaches
In addition, a study by Harvard University linked vitamin C supplementation with kidney stones in men.
Male population prone to vitamin C supplementation is twice as likely to develop kidney stones than men not taking any supplements.
Do not worry, if you source your vitamin C from fruits and vegetables, there is no such risk of too much vitamin C.
Best Food Sources of Vitamin C
As mentioned previously, the best treatment for vitamin C deficiency is to consume foods high in vitamin C.
It is also important to note that you want to source from different foods.
That means including 2 or 3 of the vitamin C rich foods in your daily diet.
Here are some foods that can help you up your consumption of the immune vitamin.
- Guava, the exotic fruit contains more than 600% of the daily dose of vitamin C
- Black Currant, also known as “the forbidden fruit”, delivers 203mg of vitamin C in one cup, or more than 300% of the daily recommended dosage
- Red peppers, known as one of the best sources of the vitamin, contain 300% of the daily value in one cup
- Green peppers are another common choice, and they deliver 200% of the daily value in one cup
- Oranges are one of the easiest ways to get vitamin C, and just one large orange gives you more than 160% of the daily recommended dose
- Strawberries are a seasonal fruit, but once you get your hands on them, one cup contains 150% of the daily dose of vitamin C
- One piece of kiwi fruit contains more than 270% of the daily dose of vitamin C
- Grapefruit, another citrus fruit, delivers 120% of the daily dose in one large fruit
- One cup of fresh pineapple contains more than 130% of the daily recommended dose of vitamin C
- Moving onto vegetables, kale is your best option, with more than 130% of the daily dose in one cup of raw kale
- Broccoli delivers 135% of the daily dose of vitamin C in one cup when eaten raw
- One cup of fresh parsley brings 130% of the daily dose of vitamin C to the table