Vitamin C is an essential nutrient that must be consumed almost every day to avoid deficiency. The common causes of vitamin C deficiency are alcoholism, poor diet, anorexia, severe mental illness, smoking, and dialysis. Although symptoms of vitamin C deficiency take months to develop, certain mild symptoms should be noted. 

Below are some of the symptoms to watch out for.

Rough, Bumpy skin


Vitamin C plays a significant role in collagen production. Collagen is a protein present in connective tissues like hair, skin, bones, joints, and blood vessels. When the amount of vitamin C in the body is low, a skin condition known as keratosis pilaris can develop. For this condition, keratin protein builds up inside the skin pores, giving your skin a bumpy feel. This condition affects your arms, buttocks, or thighs. Keratosis pilaris appears after three to five-month of inadequate intake of vitamin C. 


Corkscrew-shaped body hair

Vitamin C deficiency causes hair to grow in a bent or cooled manner due to defects of the hair’s protein structure. This corkscrew-shaper hair is one of the most profound and most occurring effects of vitamin c deficiency but may not be very obvious. Infected hair follicles are likely to break off or fall out. This hair abnormality can be resolved within one month of treatment with a sufficient amount of vitamin C. 


Bright red hair follicles

 Hair follicles on the body’s surface contain blood vessels that transport blood through them. Once the body is deficient in vitamin C, these blood vessels become weak and eventually break, thereby causing small red, bright spots around the hair. This is known as perifollicular hemorrhage and a well-documented symptom of severe vitamin C deficiency. This can be resolved within two weeks by consuming enough vitamin C.


Dry, damaged skin

Dry, Skin, Hands, Health, Lotion, HandHealthy skin contains lots of vitamin C, which are mostly stored in the epidermis, or outer layer of the skin. This layer of the skin is kept oily and moisturized with the help of vitamin C. Vitamin C also protects the skin from oxidative damage caused by the sun and exposure to pollutants like cigarette smoke or the ozone. Studies have shown that those who take enough vitamin C are likely to have better skin conditions than those with the deficiency. 


Easy bruising

Bruising occurs when the blood vessels present under the skin are eventually ruptured, causing a leakage of blood into the external environment. Lack of vitamin C can cause such conditions because weak blood vessels are caused by vitamin C deficiency. This is one of the most common deficiency symptoms and should be duly reported and taken care of.


Slowly healing wounds

Since vitamin C is responsible for the production of collagen, which helps strengthen blood vessels, open wounds are likely to heal slower if you’re deficient. Research has shown that those with leg wounds are likely to heal faster when introduced to adequate amounts of vitamin C than those who weren’t. In severe vitamin C deficiency cases, the healed wounds may reopen, thereby increasing the risk of infection.


Painful, swollen joints

Knee, Old, Care, Injury, Pain, Knee Pain


Joints are connective tissues containing collagen, which is produced by vitamin C. That means joints can be affected by vitamin C deficiency. Many reports have shown the association of joints pain with vitamin C deficiency. Bleeding within the joints can also occur in some severe cases. Consumption of adequate amounts of vitamin C will resolve these cases with a week or two.


Weak bones

Here’s another case of collagen breakdown. Low vitamin C in your diet can lead to weak and fragile bones. In fact, fracture and osteoporosis of the bone have been linked to vitamin C deficiency. Vitamin C plays a critical role in bone formation, bone health, and bone strength, so a person deficient can easily suffer bone loss. Children should be encouraged to take in a lot of vitamin C as their bones are still growing and developing.


Bleeding gums and tooth loss

Red, swollen gums are another symptom of vitamin C deficiency. Without adequate vitamin C, the gums’ tissues become weakened and inflamed, which makes blood vessels break easily. In some severe and rare cases, the gum appears purple or rotten. Eventually, teeth can fall out because of this. 


Poor immunity

Researches have shown that vitamin C gathers in the cell to assist them in combating diseases. Once a person is deficient in vitamin C, the cells become weak, which leads to low immunity and a higher risk of serious infections. 


Fatigue and low mood

Disease, Medicine, Health, Medication

These are two of the earliest symptoms of vitamin C deficiency. This can appear even before a full-blown deficiency develops. Though they are the first symptoms, they are quickly resolved after a few days of sufficient vitamin C intake.


Unexplained weight gain

Vitamin C helps against obesity by regulating the release of fat from fat cells, reducing stress hormones, and decreasing inflammation. Research has shown a consistent link between low vitamin C and excess body fat. Note that weight gain alone isn’t enough to specify vitamin C deficiency. Meet with a physician for clarification.


Chronic Inflammation and Oxidative Stress

Vitamin C is known to be one of the body’s most important water-soluble antioxidants. It prevents cellular damage by neutralizing free radicals that could be accumulated from exposure to the sun. These radicals, if not kept in check, could lead to inflammation and oxidative stress. Inflammation and oxidative stress have been linked to severe heart conditions and other chronic illnesses. A study found that adults with the lowest blood levels of vitamin C were up to 40% more likely to develop heart failure within 15 years than those with the highest blood levels, even though they were not deficient in vitamin C. This shows how vital vitamin C is in the body.

Some vitamin C sources include; cherry, guava, kiwi fruit, strawberry, parsley, broccoli, papaya, lemon, lychee, orange, sweet red pepper, etc.

Note that vitamin C breakdown is very rapid once exposed to heat, so you better go for those in raw fruits and vegetables rather than cooked ones.