Vitamin C Deficiency

A vitamin C deficiency is a rare type of Vitamin deficiency, however it exists as a result generally of undernutrition so it is important to understand it and learn to prevent it.

Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid is vital in the formation of hormones, amino acids, carnitine and collagen.  This is a vitamin we use to heal wounds and burns. As an antioxidant, Vitamin C facilitates the absorption of iron and strengthens our immune system.

Vitamin C Deficiency Symptoms

Early Vitamin deficiency signs in adults start appearing after weeks or months after depletion.  These early signs include:

  • Weight loss
  • Weakness and lassitude
  • Irritability
  • Myalgias and Arthralgias

If more time passes, we will suffer from even more signs of a depletion of Vitamin C, linked mostly to damage in connective tissues:

  • Coil hair
  • Follicular hyperkeratosis
  • Perifollicular hemorrhage
  • Swollen gums

We can even mention a third stage in deficiency of Vitamin C where these symptoms appear:

  • Easy gum bleeding
  • Loose teeth
  • Poor wound healing and easy tearing
  • Spontaneous hemorrhages

Vitamin C Deficiency in children and infants may lead to impaired bone growth.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Vitamin C Deficiency

Diagnosis for this condition is made clinically, once you notice the signs of a deficiency.  In the case of children doctors can use skeletal X-rays to detect scurvy.

Laboratory tests will be performed to measure plasma ascorbic acid depending on the severity of your deficiency.  In adults scurvy cannot be detected using X-rays and must be differentiated from hemorrhagic disorders, gingivitis, arthritis and protein-energy malnutrition.

The treatment for this condition consists of oral Vitamin C. Depending on your case, doctors will have administered a therapeutic dose.  To prevent Vitamin C problems, women can take 75 mg po once/day and men 90 mg po/day.  It is also important to add to our diet foods that contain this vitamin. Once you start treating the deficiency, symptoms will become less severe and you can expect them to disappear over the course of 1-2 weeks.

What Happens If I Take Too Much Vitamin C?

The maximum amount of Vitamin C you can take is 2000 mg/day.  Some people think that the more Vitamin C you take the better but if you go over the limit, you can suffer from the symptoms of Vitamin C toxicity, which include: nausea, diarrhea, acidification of urine, and unbalance of antioxidants/prooxidants in the body.

  1. david s. miller
    September 1st, 2009 at 17:00 | #1

    I am 72 years old take absolutely no prescription drugs, have no signs of arthritis and smoke one pack of cigarettes a day. I’ve taken vitamin C for the last 30 years, on average I will take 8 to 10 grams a day. There was a time when I was taking as high as 25 grams a day. The only problem I have is I have a pacemaker, that was the first time I saw a Dr. In 35 years.

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