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Vitamin C Deficiency: Signs and Symptoms of Lack of Vitamin C in the Body

You might be deficient in vitamin C if you experience few of these signs and symptoms.

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Vitamin C Deficiency: Signs and Symptoms of Lack of Vitamin C in the Body
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Vitamin C is one of the essential nutrients that must be consumed regularly to prevent its deficiency. Vitamin C deficiency is rare in developed countries since people have the choice of buying fresh produce besides supplements.

According to United States National Institutes of Health, vitamin C deficiency affects 7 percent of the US Population and the main causes may include:

  • Poor diet

  • Alcoholism

  • Anorexia

  • Mental illness

  • Smoking

  • Dialysis

You might not be able to know that your body lacks vitamin C since it takes months for the body to show the symptoms but you may experience the symptoms mentioned below.

Here are the six most common signs and symptoms of vitamin C deficiency.

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Bumpy, Uneven Skin

Vitamin C plays a major role in collagen production, and it is a protein that is found in connective tissues like skin, hair, joints, bones, and blood vessels. Low levels of vitamin C can give rise to a skin condition known as keratosis pilaris.

This skin condition is characterised by bumps or “chicken skin” that appears on the back of the upper arms, thighs, or buttocks due to a build-up of keratin protein within the pores (PubMed Central).

Keratosis pilaris may develop after three to five months of inadequate intake of vitamin C but the problem can be resolved with proper supplementation under a doctor's guidance.

However, there are many other causes of keratosis pilaris, so always it might not be a result of vitamin C deficiency.

Dry Skin

Dry skin is another symptom of vitamin C deficiency. Healthy skin contains large amounts of vitamin C in the upper layers of epidermis, or outer layer of skin.

Vitamin C helps keep the skin healthy and protects it from oxidative damage caused by the sun and exposure to pollutants like cigarette smoke or the ozone. As mentioned before, it also promotes collagen production making the skin look plump and youthful.

According to US NIH, lower intake of vitamin C is associated with a 10% increased risk of developing dry, wrinkled skin but consult a doctor to make sure vitamin C deficiency is the reason for it.

Easy Bruising 

Bruises occur when blood vessels under the skin rupture thus resulting in blood leakage into the surrounding areas. Easy bruising can be a sign that your body lacks vitamin C resulting in poor collagen production and weak blood vessels.

Deficiency-related bruises may appear on large areas of the body or appear as small, purple dots under the skin. Easy bruising is one of the obvious symptoms of vitamin C deficiency.

Weak Bones 

According to UK NIH, low levels of vitamin C can also have an impact on bone health, and low vitamin C intake has been linked to increased risk of fracture and osteoporosis as well.

Research proves that vitamin C plays an important role in bone formation and lack of it can lead to bone loss over a period of time. Children are at a higher risk of developing weak bones in their growing years if they do not get enough vitamin C through their diet.

Weak Immunity

According to PubMed, vitamin C has proven to be extremely beneficial in maintaining strong immunity. Vitamin C accumulates inside various immune cells and helps them fight infection and destroy the disease-causing pathogen.

Vitamin C deficiency is linked to poor immunity and a higher risk of infection, including serious illnesses like pneumonia. Scurvy is a disease caused due to vitamin C deficiency and people eventually die of infection due to their poorly functioning immune systems.

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Iron Deficiency

This might be a surprise to you but people suffering from anaemia may be suffering from vitamin C deficiency as well.

Signs of iron deficiency include pale skin, fatigue, difficulty in breathing during exercise, dry skin and hair, headache, and spoon-shaped fingernails.

Research proves that low levels of vitamin C contribute to iron deficiency anaemia by reducing the absorption of iron from plant-based foods that have a negative impact on iron absorption.

Vitamin C deficiency also increases the risk of excessive bleeding which results in anaemia. If iron deficiency anaemia persists for a long time with no underlying reasons, get your vitamin C levels checked.

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