How do you know if you have a vitamin C deficiency? (2023)

Vitamin C is an essential nutrient that the body needs for growth and development. People who don't have enoughvitamin Cthey have a deficiency of vitamin C in their bodies, which is also called scurvy. The human body does not produce vitamin C naturally, so we must get all the vitamin C we need from the food we eat. Vitamin C is often consumed in fruit and vegetables, but it is found in many foods.

While most people get enough vitamin C through their normal diet, some people are deficient in vitamin C. It takes about two to three months of consuming too little vitamin C to develop a deficiency. You have a greater risk of developing scurvy if you smoke tobacco, drink too much alcohol or have various ailments, includingeating disorder, gastrointestinal disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), food allergies ortype 1 diabetes.

We will talk about the symptoms of vitamin C deficiency and how to know when to talk to your doctor.

Behavioral symptoms are often the first symptoms of vitamin C deficiency. If you lack vitamin C, you may feel tired, irritable and have a loss of appetite.


A person with vitamin C deficiency may appear more irritable than usual. This irritability may be the result of a general feeling of discomfort or it may occur as a result of other symptoms such asanemia(a condition characterized by a reduced level of red blood cells).

Lost appetite

Loss of appetite is one of the other symptoms that often occur with vitamin C deficiency, along with other feelings of general ill health, such as nausea and flu-like symptoms.

Because vitamin C is needed to help your body absorb iron, a lack of vitamin C can cause iron deficiency, which contributes to the severity of these symptoms. Loss of appetite can also make it difficult to eat foods rich in vitamin C.

Skin symptoms

People who are deficient in vitamin C will generally experience a variety of skin symptoms. This is because vitamin C plays a role in the creation of proteins calledcollagen. Your body uses collagen to make skin, tendons, ligaments and blood vessels.

One of the main skin symptoms of scurvy occurs when blood vessels leak blood under the skin. This can look like purple spots on the skin, called purpura, as well as cause small spots of blood under the skin (petechiae) and bruising. Purpura can be as large as 10 millimeters in diameter. Your skin may also feel dry and rough or scaly.

A person with scurvy may also have more difficulty healing wounds or fighting infection. Vitamin C plays a role in wound healing and scar tissue formation. Without enough vitamin C, you may notice that a scratch or blister takes longer than usual to heal.

Nail symptoms

Not only your skin and hair are affected by vitamin C deficiency, but so are your nails. Your nails may appear to bleed, as can your skin. They may also have a deformity where the middle of the nail is recessed and the end of the nail is raised. This may resemble the shape of a spoon.

Clip symptoms

If you have scurvy, your hair may appear more twisted or bent. This is because the deficiency has caused your hair to lack a certain type of bond.

Hair on the legs can also be affected. As blood vessels are affected by vitamin C deficiency, this can cause bleeding around the hair follicles on the legs. This can lead toswellingin your legs.

Symptoms in the environment

Your eyes can be affected by vitamin C deficiency. Visual symptoms can be serious and significantly affect your quality of life, so it is important to get treatment right away. Vitamin C deficiency can cause:

  • A small blood vessel is bleeding in the white part of the eye
  • Damaged nerves
  • Bleeding in the optic nerve (the nerve that connects your eyes to the brain)
  • Blurry vision
  • dry eyes
  • Yellowing of the eyes and skin (jaundice)

These symptoms can lead to problems such as tissue damage, swelling and changes in the optic nerve. If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your doctor immediately. They will likely refer you to an optometrist or ophthalmologist (two types of eye doctors).

Vitamin C deficiency can cause fragility of capillaries (blood vessels), which contributes to the above skin and hair symptoms. Capillary fragility can occur in the joints, causing pain and swelling, usually in the legs. Prolonged periods of standing can worsen leg swelling due to gravity.

In addition, one of the roles of vitamin C is the repair and maintenance of bones and cartilage. Scurvy means that your bones and cartilage do not get enough vitamin C to grow and develop. This can cause your bones to become brittle and weak, and your joints to become swollen and painful.

Because a lack of vitamin C can affect bone formation, people who have been examined beforehand may notice something called a "short crown." This term means that there is a visible uneven pattern on the skin where the ribs meet the sternum. There may also be a hole in the sternum.

Physical symptoms

You may feel physical symptoms as a result of vitamin C deficiency. These may include fatigue, anaemia, joint pain and swelling, as well as mouth-related symptoms.


Fatigueis an early sign of vitamin C deficiency; although it is also an early sign of various conditions and deficiencies. Fatigue due to vitamin C deficiency is also likely to be accompanied by weakness and muscle pain.


Vitamin C helps with the absorption of iron, one of the minerals that make up red blood cells. When there is not enough vitamin C in the body, it can affect the absorption of iron and lead to anemia.

Anemia is when the body does not have enough healthy red blood cells to supply the body with oxygen. This lack of oxygen can lead to symptoms such as:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • shortness of breath (dyspnoea)
  • Dizziness
  • Headache

Apart from vitamin C deficiency, anemia can have several different causes. Treatment may vary depending on the cause and severity.

mouth problem

Repairing and maintaining your teeth is one of vitamin C's many roles. Vitamin C deficiency can cause your enamel (the outer protective layer of your teeth) to weaken.

Lack of vitamin C can also cause inflammation of the gums, the so-calledgingivitis. Gingivitis can cause the gums to bleed, swell or look red or purple. Bleeding gums are one of the most common symptoms of vitamin C deficiency.

If you experience symptoms of vitamin C deficiency, you may need treatment from your doctor. They can help you determine how much vitamin C you need and whether you need other treatments for the symptoms you're experiencing.

Vitamin C deficiency in the late stages can be life-threatening. If you experience symptoms of scurvy, contact your doctor. Be aware of serious symptoms, which may include:

  • Severe swelling
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
  • Attack

The treatment includes supplementing with vitamin C and adjusting your diet. You should start to notice an improvement in your symptoms within 24 hours of starting treatment.

Quick review

Although most people get enough vitamin C through their regular diet, there are some people who are vitamin C deficient. Vitamin C deficiency, also called scurvy, can lead to symptoms that affect your skin, muscles, joints, behavior and general well-being. .

If you experience symptoms of vitamin C deficiency, contact your doctor. They can test your vitamin C levels and can advise you on treatment, which may include supplements and adjustments to your diet.

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