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Vitamin C Deficiency: Symptoms, causes, prevention, treatments

Team AckoSept 14, 2023

Ascorbic acid, commonly known as Vitamin C, is essential for the human body's growth, development, and repair of bone, skin, and connective tissue. This nutrient also helps blood vessels to function normally. Thus, you can face several health issues if you suffer from a deficiency. This article lists the symptoms, causes, prevention methods, and treatments for Vitamin C Deficiency. Read on to know more.

Vitamin C Deficiency



What is meant by a deficiency of Vitamin C?

Vitamin C Deficiency is brought on by the body's inability to absorb Vitamin C for various reasons, including a poor diet. In the long term, this deficiency can delay or even block the production of new collagen. As a result, various body tissues may start to deteriorate, affecting the body's ability to recover. If your body does not receive Vitamin C for a long time, it can cause serious health issues. For example, bleeding gums, skin diseases, etc. If these symptoms are identified at an early stage, then the deficiency can be corrected before permanent damage.

Signs and symptoms of Vitamin C Deficiency

Following are the basic signs and symptoms of Vitamin C Deficiency.

Early signs Advanced signs
Tiny bruise-like reddish-blue patches on the skin Unexplained weight loss, Dry skin
Joint and muscle pain Low immunity
Frequent bruising Dry, brittle hair that split at the ends
Weakness and tiredness Swelling in gums, Discolouration in the mouth

What causes Vitamin C Deficiency?

An unbalanced diet is the main contributor to Vitamin C Deficiency. This is because Vitamin C cannot be produced by the human body and must instead be received from external sources. This mainly relates to dietary intake, which includes fortified foods, fruits, and vegetables. This is why poor diet is a significant factor in most Vitamin C Deficiency cases. 

Here are a few examples.

  • Poor digestive system.

  • Low intake of Vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables.

  • Concerns with mental health and other conditions like anorexia.

  • A diet that is restricted owing to medical issues, including allergies.

Additionally, a shortage of Vitamin C may be caused by various factors. These include prescription drugs, medical problems, and lifestyle choices preventing the body from absorbing nutrients properly. 

Diseases caused by Vitamin C Deficiency

Following is the list of diseases caused by the deficiency of Vitamin C.

  1. Scurvy: The most common condition associated with Vitamin C Deficiency is scurvy. It indicates a severe Vitamin C Deficiency in the diet, which can result in rashes, bleeding gums, weakness, etc. Some early warning indicators are fatigue, decreased appetite, irritability, and joint pain. Left untreated, it can also result in anaemia, gingivitis, skin haemorrhages, etc.

  2. Hyperthyroidism: A continuous lack of Vitamin C can lead to an overproduction of thyroid hormone leading to hyperthyroidism. Thus, together with other important nutrients, Vitamin C is crucial for the health of your thyroid. Vitamin C Deficiency can also cause symptoms like palpitations, tremors, unexpected weight loss, changes in appetite, changes in a woman's menstrual cycle, jitteriness, etc. 

  3. Anaemia: It's crucial to include Vitamin C in your diet. Along with its many other advantages, it aids in absorbing iron, which is essential to prevent conditions like anaemia. Anaemia is caused by low levels or poor quality of red blood cells in the body. Fatigue, paleness, shortness of breath, vertigo, weight loss, are other possible symptoms of anaemia.

  4. Bleeding gums: Vitamin C is essential for maintaining dental health. It not only fortifies your teeth but also safeguards the gums. Therefore, gum disease and bleeding gums might result from a Vitamin C Deficiency.

  5. Skin diseases: Some skin conditions, including atopic dermatitis (AD) and Porphyria Cutanea Tarda  (PCT), can be caused by or made worse by a Vitamin C deficiency. This deficiency could be among the reasons that cause the formation of PCT, as Vitamin C levels in plasma are lowered in AD.

How long does it take to correct Vitamin C Deficiency?

Patients with Vitamin C Deficiency often see a noticeable improvement in their health after beginning to consume supplements. Here is a summary of the symptoms and how long they are likely to last after starting treatment.

  • It can take 24 hours to correct anorexia, anguish, weariness, mental fog, and lethargy.

  • Severe weakness, bleeding, and bruises can take up to one or two weeks to heal.

  • It may take at least three months to get rid of Vitamin C Deficiency.

Each body is different, and the above timelines may change from person to person depending on the severity of the deficiency and other medical issues. Permanent harm, however, is irreversible and includes significant dental distortion or tooth loss. This is why it is essential to prioritise your health and correct Vitamin C Deficiency before it is too late.

Treatment for Vitamin C Deficiency

As per the National Library of Medicine, an official website of the United States government, your doctor may prescribe the following.

  • Infants may be given 300 mg of Vitamin C supplement daily; for adults, it can be 500 mg to 1000 mg daily. The treatment continues for one month or until the symptoms subside. 

  • In another method, reducing doses of this supplement are administered over a period of three months. 

  • Your doctor may also recommend stopping drinking and smoking and making necessary changes in the diet to get better results from the treatment.

How can I prevent Vitamin C Deficiency?

Ensuring to eat a diet high in Vitamin C is the greatest strategy to prevent Vitamin C Deficiency. The following are some of the most popular food sources of this vitamin.

Carrots Kiwi Spinach Lemons
Bell Peppers Strawberries Tomatoes Papaya
Broccoli Blackberries Cabbage Potatoes
Guava Oysters Oranges Paprika

Also Read: Top 5 fruits rich in Vitamin C

Who is at risk of suffering from Vitamin C Deficiency?

The following people can be at risk of suffering from a Vitamin C Deficiency.

  • Alcoholics

  • Infants who are solely given cow's milk

  • People who don’t eat adequate fruits and vegetables

  • Smokers

  • Those who suffer from eating disorders

  • People with type 1 diabetes need a lot of Vitamin C.

  • People who suffer from gastrointestinal diseases like inflammatory bowel disease

  • People with iron excess, which causes the kidneys to waste Vitamin C

  • Those who follow strict diets or have food allergies

Frequently asked questions

Here are some questions and answers about Vitamin C Deficiency.

What are the effects of consuming too much Vitamin C?


Side effects of taking too much Vitamin C include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, heartburn, abdominal pain or bloating, drowsiness and fatigue, or even sleeplessness.

Does a lack of Vitamin C result in hair loss?


Although Vitamin C Deficiency is frequently linked to irregularities in body hair, there is no evidence between Vitamin C levels and hair loss.

When using Vitamin C, what should you avoid?


Drugs, including aspirin, acetaminophen, antacids, and blood thinners, may interact with this vitamin. Its benefits could be diminished by nicotine as well. Before taking high amounts of Vitamin C supplements, pregnant women and people with liver ailments, renal disease, or other chronic disorders should consult a doctor.

Is Vitamin C a source of energy?


Vitamin C levels and mood are related. Those who are Vitamin C deficient frequently experience weariness or depression. According to research, people who have Vitamin C levels that are below average report feeling happier and more energised after taking Vitamin C.

What effects does Vitamin C have on your skin?


Dermatologists appreciate topical Vitamin C because it is supported by research and may decrease the onset of skin ageing, protect skin from UV damage, and reduce wrinkles, dark spots, and acne.

Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. It is based on several secondary sources on the internet. Please consult a doctor before making any health-related decisions.


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