Vitamin C is an important component of the diet that the human body cannot make, neither can it be stored by the body. Therefore, to prevent scurvy- vitamin C deficiency, you must consume vitamin C supplements or fresh food rich in vitamin C. Vitamin C is essential in repairing various tissues in our bodies such as teeth and cartilage, bone, and skin. Low vitamin C levels can cause easy bleeding, bruising, and muscle and joint pain.
How Much Vitamin C Do You Need?
With a well-balanced diet, it’s easy for you to get enough vitamin C. For adult females, 75 milligrams of vitamin C is enough per day. Adult males require 90 milligrams daily. A simple diet such as ½ cup of raw red bell pepper or ¾ cup of fresh juice can be a source of vitamin C you require.
Children between 1 and 10 years require 30 milligrams of vitamin C per day, while those between 11 and 14 years and those over 15 years require 35 milligrams and 40 milligrams of vitamin C, respectively. Since your body cannot store this vitamin, you have to ensure that you eat food that is rich in vitamin C each day.
Who Is Likely To Experience Scurvy?
The most likely people to experience vitamin C deficiency are those with a generally poor diet, heavy drinkers, smokers, and kidney disease patients who get dialysis. For example, smokers will need an additional 35 milligrams of vitamin C to repair any damage caused by free radicals formed when they smoke. If you have vitamin C deficiency, you’ll notice symptoms within a few months.
Which Foods Are Rich in Vitamin C?
The best sources of vitamin C are fruits and vegetables. Avoid cooking fruits and vegetables to retain their minerals. In fact, cooking fruits and vegetables reduce vitamin C content by ⅓. Foods rich in vitamin C include oranges, limes, lemons, grapefruit, strawberries, cranberries, raspberries, watermelon, cantaloupe melon, kiwi fruit, tomatoes, spinach, red and green peppers, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, potatoes, brussels sprouts, among others.
Symptoms of Vitamin C Deficiency
Rough, Bumpy Skin
Vitamin C plays an important role in the formation of collagen – a protein that is present in tissues such as hair, skin, bones, joints, and blood vessels. With a lack of vitamin C, you are likely to develop skin conditions such as keratosis pilaris.
This condition leads to bumpy skin on the back of the upper arms, buttocks, or thighs due to keratin protein inside the pores. Keratosis pilaris caused by low or lack of vitamin C starts to show within three or five months of low intake and can be resolved by vitamin C supplements. However, there are other causes of keratosis pilaris, meaning that its presence is not a clear indication of vitamin C deficiency.
Bright Red Hair Follicles
There are lots of tiny blood vessels present on hair follicles on the skin’s surface that ensure the supply of blood and nutrients around the area. In the vitamin c deficiency, these blood vessels become fragile, breaking easily, causing bright red spots to emerge around the hair follicles. This condition is known as perifollicular hemorrhage – a clear indication of severe deficiency of vitamin C. Luckily, supplementation resolves this symptom within days.
Dry, Damaged Skin
Vitamin C ensures healthy glowing skin, especially the outer layer is known as the epidermis. Vitamin C protects the skin from oxidative damage caused by sun rays and pollution from the ozone. This vitamin also ensures collagen production, making the skin look plump and youthful.
Daily intake of the right amount of vitamin C is associated with better skin quality, while wrinkled skin is associated with a low intake of this vitamin. Though dry and damaged skin can be associated with vitamin C deficiency, it can also be caused by other factors such as an underlying health issue. Therefore, this symptom is not enough evidence of vitamin C deficiency.
It’s normal for bruising to occur when blood vessels under the skin break, especially when you are out and about your daily chores. However, easy bruising can be an indication of vitamin C deficiency. Bruising related to deficiency may appear on a large area or appear as tinny, purple spots under the skin. Easy bruising is among the first symptoms indicating vitamin C deficiency. If you experience this symptom, you should undergo further investigation to determine your vitamin C levels.
Slow Healing Wounds
Lack of vitamin C interferes with collagen formation, hence leading to slow wound healing. It has been stated that people with chronic leg ulcers are more likely to have a vitamin C deficiency. In severe cases of vitamin C deficiency, healed wounds may reopen, increasing the chances of infection. This symptom is one of the advanced signs of deficiency and can only be noticed after months of deficiency.
Preventing Vitamin C Deficiency
As said, prevention is better than cure. Eating a balanced diet rich in vitamin C will ensure that you do not fall into the category of those with vitamin C deficiency. With your favorite food from the ones listed above, you are sure that your vitamin C levels are in check.
The only treatment for vitamin C deficiency is by ensuring that your diet is rich in vitamin C. There are lots of foods rich in this vitamin as well as supplements. Your doctor may refer you to a dietician to help you know which food or supplements you are required to take to replace the deficient vitamin. After recovering from scurvy, stop taking Vitamin C supplements but continue eating food rich in vitamin C.
If you suspect that you might be vitamin C deficient, visit your doctor so that they can perform some tests to determine whether you are right. Doctors may perform other tests to check other deficiencies in your meals. For instance, vitamin C is required for the absorption of iron from food. Therefore, it’s most likely that people with vitamin C deficiency are also deficient in iron.