Vitamin C structure

Symptoms of Vitamin C Deficiency You Can't Afford to Ignore

Excluding fruits and vegetables from your diet can lead to vitamin C deficiency. Although rare, such deficiency can lead to serious health problems. To be on the safer side, go through various symptoms of vitamin C deficiency mentioned in this Buzzle article.
There are not many doubts in people's minds about the importance of vitamins for the human body. Vitamin deficiency of any kind is harmful for the body, as all metabolic reactions which depend on the availability of that particular vitamin cannot happen. This disrupts the ideal body functionality, and results in the person falling ill. Since a lot of people are aware of advantages of vitamin C, and are also aware about disorders occurring due to lack of vitamin C, cases of vitamin C deficiency are comparatively less. Also common sources of vitamin C are more often than not part of a person's regular diet, and therefore not many people face the problem. However, it is essential to know that your body needs more vitamin C, if you have fever, burns, inflammation, diarrhea, hyperthyroidism, anemia, cold or heat stress, and protein deficiency. Similarly, those who smoke and/or consume drugs, or those who have recently undergone a surgery would also need more vitamin C.

Importance and Functions of Vitamin C

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is one of the important nutrients, which needs to be present in our diet in the right amount for the various benefits it provides. Unlike certain other mammals, humans are incapable of producing vitamin C in their bodies. Human body cannot store it as well. So, we need to consume it every day. Important health benefits of vitamin C are mentioned below:
It is necessary for quick healing of wounds. It accelerates the recovery process even in case of burn injuries.
It assists the body in absorbing iron from foodstuffs consumed. Lack of vitamin C can lead to iron deficiency anemia.
It works as an antioxidant, and strengthens the immune system. Vitamin C is a great immune system booster.
It reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases, prenatal health problems, cancer, stroke, eye diseases, and even premature wrinkling of the skin.
Vitamin C plays an important role in the development and function of many parts of the body. It is essential for the production of collagen which is required for repair of various tissues. Collagen helps maintain the health of bodily tissues like skin, bones, blood vessels, tendons, ligaments, skin, etc.

Sources of Vitamin C

The required amount of vitamin C can be obtained from regular diet itself. Green leafy vegetables along with fresh fruits are an excellent source of vitamin C. Fish, germinating pulses, and other root vegetables are also good sources of vitamin C. Fruits like berries, guava, kiwi, cantaloupe, melons, and Indian gooseberry (amla) are rich in this vitamin. Citrus fruits like lemon and oranges, kiwi fruit, vegetables such as sweet potatoes, tomatoes, cabbage, green pepper, and broccoli are also packed with vitamin C.

Deficiency Symptoms in Adults and Children

Deficiency of vitamin C can adversely affect the functioning of various bodily systems. Malnourished adults are likely to suffer from vitamin C deficiency.
Deficiency of this vitamin can result in a dangerous disease called scurvy. Swelling in the gums, pain in joints, bruising and/or bleeding very easily, fatigue, appearance of small red-blue spots on skin, shortness of breath after physical activity, and hair loss are common symptoms of scurvy. If left untreated, it can lead to anemia, jaundice, and accumulation of fluid (edema) in the body. Common scurvy symptoms indicate weakened blood vessels and loss of collagen from the body. However, scurvy occurs when a person has a vitamin C deficiency for a substantially long period like 2 to 3 months. It is true that early signs are not very indicative of the disease, but one can always consume foodstuffs with a high vitamin C content to prevent (and cure too) the disease.
One may not develop scurvy, but may exhibit symptoms like swelling/softening of gums, anemia, red-blue spots on skin, weakened capillaries, and reduction of collagen levels in the body. The symptoms can be less severe than those seen in scurvy patients.
In case a person is suffering from a mild deficiency of vitamin C, then symptoms like fatigue, pain in the muscles, lassitude, anorexia, and an increased vulnerability to infection can be noticed.
Lack of vitamin C in diet can lead to splitting hair, dry skin, nosebleeds, poor healing of wounds, weight loss, tooth loss, bleeding gums, severe joint pain due to bleeding in joints, etc.
When a person's body becomes deficient in vitamin C, it can also lead to thyroid related problems and premature aging.
The immune system becomes weak, and as a result, various toxic substances become even more dangerous.
The deficiency symptoms in children are more or less similar, apart from the fact that their bone growth may be impaired. This problem is more common among infants and growing children.
If left untreated, vitamin C deficiency can cause bleeding inside the brain and also around the heart, eventually leading to death of the person.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Vitamin C deficiency can be diagnosed after examining the symptoms. Blood tests are a common diagnosis tool along with bone X-rays, especially for infants and children, as they are likely to depict an impaired bone growth. Treatment is pretty straight forward, wherein the patient is advised to consume food stuffs which are rich in vitamin C. These mostly involve consuming more fruits and vegetables daily. In case the diagnosis suggests scurvy, the patient may need to consume certain vitamin C supplements, for speedy recovery. Most scurvy symptoms usually take around a couple of weeks to go away. Other patients with vitamin C deficiency may also be advised to take vitamin C supplements. The patients should follow the instructions of the doctor religiously, as excess of vitamin C in the body can also lead to health problems.

Regular intake of vitamin C rich food can prevent many catastrophes. So, incorporate such food in your regular diet. Consume as much fruits and vegetables as possible.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.
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