Vitamin C is needed for the growth and repair of tissues in all your body parts. Being an essential vitamin, it cannot be produced by the human body, it should be part of your nutritional intake to maintain sufficient levels. Therefore a diet with adequate levels of vitamin C is necessary for overall health.
The equivalent of one large orange a day is enough for most adult to maintain healthy levels of vitamin C. If you already rely on a diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, or take a multivitamin, you likely won't need any additional supplements. But if you tend to eat a diet high in processed foods or don't eat the recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables you are at risk of developing vitamin C deficiency.
Signs of a Vitamin C Deficiency
There are 7 major symptoms of Vitamin C deficiency:
Feeling Tired or Lethargic
One of the first signs of a lack of vitamin C in the diet is fatigue. You may be getting plenty of sleep but as the days go on you feel more and more tired each morning. Not only will 7+ hours of sleep not feel like enough, but you will also feel like normal daily activities are more taxing than they once were.
Your daily commute to work might make you want a nap or your typical workout may leave you feeling exhausted. Unfortunately this symptom is common to many different health issues making it difficult to diagnose as Vitamin C deficiency.
Experiencing Irritability or Mood Swings
Aside from feeling tired, many people also start to exhibit signs of irritability. They are more easily aggravated or annoyed and quick to anger. This has a lot to do with the first symptom of lethargy, as a tired body and mind easily leads to a lack of patience. Mood swings are also common. Jumping from feeling content to suddenly upset or even feeling sad can occur.
Unexplained Weight Loss
Vitamin C deficiency can cause weight loss, whether a lack of appetite is happening or not. Some will just not feel hungry, which exacerbates this symptom, but a vitamin C deficiency or scurvy is considered a wasting disease. This simply means that it causes the body to slowly waste away, regardless of how much someone may try to eat to compensate.
Joint Pain and Muscles Soreness
Chronic muscle soreness, joint pain, and unusual aches and pains are all characteristic of vitamin C deficiency. If this deficiency reaches severe levels and becomes scurvy, bleeding can even occur in the joints which can feel excruciatingly painful.
Dry Skin and Brittle Hair
Skin and hair can say a lot about the health of your body, so it's no surprise that these two factors are quickly affected by a lack of vitamin C. Very dry, rough skin is a common sign that there is something nutritionally wrong with your diet. Hair that becomes brittle, splits or otherwise becomes unhealthy out of the blue often happens alongside dry skin issues. While both of these problems don't always point to a vitamin C deficiency outright, as majority of vitamin or mineral deficiencies cause these problems, it can be an early warning sign if occurring alongside other symptoms.
Bruising and Poor Wound Healing
If you find random bruises on your body without remembering what happened or have noticed you've been bruising more easily, it might be because you're not getting enough vitamin C in your diet. Vitamin C deficiency or scurvy compromises skin health and the immune system overall, slowing down the body’s ability to heal itself. Aside from bruising, many people also notice when they get a scratch or cut that it takes longer to heal than normal. They may also be more prone to infection, and have trouble healing from a small infection that a healthy body could easily recover from.
Gum and Tooth Deterioration
While bad oral health is a symptom of mild to moderate vitamin C deficiency, it's when it reaches the point of being scurvy that the gums and teeth really begin to suffer. Periodontal diseases is a classic sign of a prolonged lack of vitamin C.
In fact, once the teeth begin to decay or break and the gums start to ache and bleed, it could mean an individual’s vitamin C levels are dangerously low and medical attention is paramount.
If you suspect you maybe suffering from Vitamin C deficiency based on these common symptoms, you should consult your doctor as soon as possible. Severe vitamin C deficiency is curable but it will be a long road to recovery. If you've only been noticing some tiredness, dry hair or have been feeling a little off, usually eating oranges daily and taking a vitamin C tablet will get you right as rain.
Health Benefits of Vitamin C
There are many health benefits that you'll experience if you consume a diet high in vitamin C. The 4 major ones include:
Stronger Immune System and Faster Recovery from Common Cold
If you haven't noticed already there are many cold medications and drinks that are purposely high in vitamin C. Even some cough suppressant lozenges will have added vitamin C for a better sore throat healing effect. The reason vitamin C is so great at helping people get over an illness is more indirect than you might think. Aside from improving the power of your immune system it also helps the body absorb more iron, which in turns helps protect from infection.
Helps with the Treatment of Cataracts
Cataracts are the one of the most common eye problems, and can be very frustrating to deal with. Vitamin C helps the cardiovascular system and improves blood flow throughout the body, including the eyes. By increasing your vitamin C levels, you'll improve blood supply to your eyes and increase the chances of cataract treatment being successful.
May Minimize the Risk of Cancer
There is a correlation between a reduction in the risk of cancer and diet. A diet rich in fresh produce is already known to reduce cancer risks because the various vitamins, minerals and antioxidants being consumed. Vitamin C is one vitamin that is linked to almost every major part of the body, and will minimize the chance of lung, throat, colon, stomach and mouth cancers from forming.
Fights Against Stroke
If you've had a stroke in the past, have a family history of strokes, or otherwise are at risk of having one, getting enough vitamin C is an absolute must. The benefits of vitamin C for the heart is already well-known. This vitamin helps control blood pressure and also works to remove free radicals from the blood.
Some other benefits you'll experience from vitamin C is healthier skin and hair, improved mood, more energy and better mental clarity. Vitamin C also helps reduce hypertension, lowers bad cholesterol and helps with vasodilation.
Dietary Sources of Vitamin C
Oranges and citrus are the most obvious sources of vitamin C, with oranges containing about 69 mg of vitamin C each. Other good sources of this vitamin include:
Bell peppers - 341 mg per pepper
Guava fruit - 125 mg per fruit
Kale - 80 mg in one cup
Strawberries - 10 mg per berry
Tomatoes - 56 mg per two tomatoes
Kiwi fruit, papaya, broccoli, pineapple, mango and green peas are also high in vitamin C. Eating one orange every morning is a good goal to have and will keep your level healthy, but it's recommended to vary your sources of vitamin C, as trying different foods ensures your body also gets a variety of other vitamins and minerals.
Adults should aim for a minimum of 75 to 90 mg of vitamin C per day. If you’re taking 250 mg or even 1000 mg supplement, don’t worry, Vitamin C has a very low toxicity. In addition it’s water soluble, unmetabolized Vitamin C will be excreted in the urine. There haven't been any studies that show an excess of this vitamin in dangerous, but side effects like an upset stomach can occur.
If you eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, it's likely that you'll hover around a couple hundred milligrams everyday. Choosing to take an extra vitamin C supplement might be a good idea if you don't always eat properly. Others purposely load up on vitamin C supplements if they are fighting a cold or illness as it will help boost the immune system.
Zoey is a part-time blogger and a full-time nurse. She is the founder and editor of juicingjournal.com an avenue for sharing her passion about juicing, plant-based diet and living a healthier lifestyle.
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