What Are The Most Common Signs And Symptoms of Vitamin C Deficiency?

Vitamin C is a vital nutrient that you need to consume regularly so that you do not experience vitamin C deficiency.

Although vitamin C deficiency is rare in developed countries, thanks to readily available fresh produce and vitamin C added to some foods and supplements, about 7% of adults in the US are vitamin C deficient.

You are more likely to develop vitamin C deficiency if you eat a poor diet, are an alcoholic, have anorexia or another severe mental illness, smoke, or are receiving dialysis.

The symptoms of severe vitamin C deficiency often begin after a month of not getting enough vitamin C, but some subtle signs may develop before more significant symptoms appear.

This article will describe what a vitamin C deficiency is, the symptoms/signs of this deficiency, and what to do if/when it happens.

What is vitamin C deficiency?

Vitamin C deficiency occurs when your body lacks sufficient amounts of vitamin C. This deficiency can lead to a number of health concerns.

What are the signs and symptoms of vitamin C deficiency?

You may develop rough, bumpy skin on the back of your upper arms, thighs, or buttock because vitamin C deficiency causes keratin protein to build up inside your pores. This condition is called keratosis pilaris. Keratosis pilaris has many potential causes, but if it is caused by vitamin C deficiency, it will usually appear after you have been low on vitamin C for three to five months. Keratosis pilaris caused by vitamin C deficiency will go away once your vitamin C levels are back to normal.

Your body hair may grow in bent, coiled, or corkscrew-like patterns. This is because vitamin C deficiency causes defects in the protein structure of your hair. However, you may not notice this sign because these hairs usually break off or fall out. After about a month of receiving the right amounts of vitamin C, this symptom will go away.

There are many tiny blood vessels on your skin’s surface, and these blood vessels are more susceptible to breakage. This causes perifollicular hemorrhage, in which small, bright red spots show up around your hair follicles. This symptom usually disappears after two weeks of adequate vitamin C supplementation.

Bruising easily is often among the first clear signs of vitamin C deficiency, so if you begin to notice that your skin bruises easily, you should talk to your doctor about possible vitamin C deficiency. Easy bruising occurs because vitamin C deficiency reduces the amount of collagen in your skin, and this weakens your blood vessels and makes them more likely to burst. These bruises may be large, but they can also appear as tiny purple dots under your skin.

Vitamin C deficiency hinders the formation of tissues, which slows down the healing of wounds. However, you will likely experience other signs and symptoms before slow wound healing because this is a symptom of advanced vitamin C deficiency.

Vitamin C deficiency will often cause intense joint pain. In very serious cases, your joints can bleed. This causes painful swelling.

Vitamin C is vital to the formation and health of your bones. Having vitamin C deficiency can make your bones brittle and weak.

It is common for your gums to become red and bleed if you have a vitamin C deficiency. If you have severe and advanced vitamin C deficiency, your gums might even become purple and look rotten. Your teeth may also fall out.

Vitamin C is very important for the health of your immune system. Having low levels of vitamin C increases your risk of developing infections. Severe vitamin C deficiency increases your risk of dying from an infectious disease.

Vitamin C deficiency can increase your risk of developing iron-deficiency anemia because it reduces your body’s ability to absorb iron and makes bleeding more likely.

You can feel fatigued and be in a low mood from low levels of vitamin C, but these symptoms improve as you increase your vitamin C levels.

Having low vitamin C levels can increase how much body fat you have and cause unexpected weight gain, but this can also be due to other factors, like an unhealthy diet.

Low levels of vitamin C contribute to more inflammation and oxidative stress in your body and increase your risk of heart disease.

What should I do if/when I develop vitamin C deficiency?

Vitamin C deficiency is treated by replenishing your vitamin C levels. This can be done by eating a diet high in vitamin C, taking a vitamin C supplement, or having vitamin C IV infusion therapy. You should be able to stop taking supplements and getting IV treatments once your vitamin C levels are back to normal, but you should always eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables to avoid becoming vitamin C deficient again.

If you have a vitamin C deficiency, you are likely to recover fully if the deficiency is treated properly. Any symptoms you have should be resolved once your vitamin C levels are fully replenished.

How can I avoid vitamin C deficiency?

You can avoid developing vitamin C deficiency if you eat the right amount of fresh fruits and vegetables. You will get less vitamin C from cooked food. You can also take a vitamin C supplement or a multivitamin that contains vitamin C.

Another option that will give you the vitamin C you need in order not to become deficient is intravenous (IV) vitamin C infusions. These infusions are the fastest way to replenish your vitamin C levels because the vitamin C goes directly into your bloodstream and begins working immediately. Vitamin C from food and supplement sources takes hours to go into effect because the food or supplement must go through your digestive system first.

Pay attention if you begin to develop any signs or symptoms of vitamin C deficiency. Make sure you get enough vitamin C through your diet, supplements, IVs, or a combination of these.