Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that your body needs to perform normal daily functions. Even though this is an essential vitamin our body doesn't store it so it is easier then you think to develop a vitamin C deficiency. You can easily get what you need from food such as strawberries, kiwi, papaya, broccoli, tomatoes and of course oranges. If you are like many people and don't get enough fruits and veggies in your diet you can use vitamin C supplements which can help.
Poor diet, alcoholism, anorexia, severe mental illness, smoking and dialysis are also factors in developing a vitamin C deficiencies. Severe vitamin C deficiency can take months to develop and here are some subtle signs to look out for:
1. Rough or bumpy skin - A vitamin C deficiency may cause rough skin with tiny bumps," suggested registered dietitian nutritionist Rachel Fine, MS, RD, CSSD, CDN. "This is condition is known as keratosis pilaris and is sometimes called chicken skin. Keratosis pilaris causes bumpy “chicken skin” to form on the back of the upper arms, thighs or buttocks due to a buildup of keratin protein inside the pores.
2. Bright red hair follicles - Hair follicles contain many tiny blood vessels that supply blood and nutrients to the area. When a vitamin C deficiency develops these small blood vessels become fragile and break easily, causing small, bright red spots to appear around the hair follicles.
3. Bleeding and swollen gums - Gums are partially made up of collagen and tend to be sensitive to vitamin C levels. When your vitamin C levels dip your gums may bleed more. Since vitamin C helps with wound healing bleeding gums won't heal as quickly. Swollen gums happen as a result of inflammation. Vitamin C is an antioxidant and when found in normal levels reduce gum inflammation.
4. Increased nose bleeds - Nosebleeds occur when the tiny blood vessels in the nose burst, so frequent nosebleeds are a sign of weak blood vessels in the nose. Since blood vessels are strengthened by collagen, having a vitamin C deficiency can result in weakened blood vessels.
5. Hair breakage - If you notice that the ends of your hair are splitting and your hair is dry, you may have a vitamin C deficiency. Hair depends on collagen for strength and health: When you're low on C your collagen production can pay the price, leading to weak and brittle hair that falls out easily.
6. Wound healing - Your ability to heal is partially dependent on vitamin C. Vitamin C is vital to your immune response which works to repair and heal wounds and fight infections. Without sufficient vitamin C to help with the formation of collagen to strengthen scar tissue the healing process is slower, causing longer bleeding and slower healing.
7. Iron deficiency - Vitamin C helps your body absorb plant based iron. This is why iron deficiencies often go hand in hand with vitamin C deficiencies. Getting enough vitamin C ensures that your body can make the most of iron-rich foods.
8. Easy bruising - If you bruise easily, it could be a sign that your blood vessel walls—which are made largely from collagen—are weak. Vitamin C helps strengthen your blood vessels by boosting collagen production so they don't breakdown as easily.
9. Frequent infections - Vitamin C helps stimulate the production of white blood cells that attack bacteria and viruses as part of your immune response. As an antioxidant, vitamin C also helps protect the health of immune cells so that they can work efficiently to prevent infections. Frequent wound infections or suffering from common infections like the flu, urinary tract infections, or strep throat is an indication of a weakened immune system.
10. Fatigue and moodiness - Fatigue is a symptom of many diseases and deficiencies, but when coupled with these other signs, it can help you spot a vitamin C deficiency. Vitamin C plays a key role in energy production and mood stabilization, so a lack of vitamin C can throw both your energy and mood out of balance. There is evidence that eating produce high in vitamin C can enhance overall mood, reduce fatigue, increase vigor, and reduce depression.