How can we know if we have vitamin C deficiency? What is the treatment for vitamin C deficiency? In this article we will answer these questions.
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The body is not able to make vitamin C, and for this reason, this substance is considered a vital part of the diet. The body needs it to maintain health and repair its various tissues, including skin, cartilage, bones and teeth.
If the lack of this vitamin in the diet continues, it causes a complication called scurvy. Symptoms of scurvy include easy bruising and bleeding, and muscle and joint pain. Vitamin C deficiency is treated with vitamin C supplements and a diet rich in this substance.
What is vitamin C?
Vitamins are substances that the body needs in small amounts to maintain its health. Vitamin C is one of these substances and is also known as ascorbic acid. The body is not able to make this vitamin and therefore the body meets its needs through diet.
Vitamin C is necessary to make collagen. The body needs this substance for the health and repair of different body tissues, these tissues include:
- Ligaments and tendons
- The wall of blood vessels
- the teeth
The disadvantages of vitamin B deficiency
Your body needs a certain amount of each type of vitamin B to function well. Vitamin B deficiency can cause diseases such as beriberi, pellagra or anaemia. People who are vitamin B deficient may feel tired, numbness or weak, among other symptoms.
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Half of those studied were given 1,000 mg of vitamin C drinks. Such signs of stress as elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol and high blood pressure were significantly greater in those who did not get the vitamin supplement. Those who got vitamin C reported that they felt less stressed when they got the vitamin.
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The best food sources of vitamin C
There are various foods rich in vitamin C, these foods include:
- Citrus fruits, such as oranges, grapefruits, lemons and limes.
- Berries such as strawberries, blueberries and cranberries.
- Garamek and watermelon.
- Kiwi fruit.
- Vegetables such as spinach, green and red peppers, tomatoes, cauliflower, lettuce, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, potatoes.
Some foods, such as breakfast cereals, are fortified with vitamin C. Also, fresh milk, fish, liver, beef and sheep offal also contain large amounts of this substance.
Most vitamin C in the human diet comes from fruits and vegetables. Cooking fruits and vegetables reduces the amount of vitamins in them by a third.
The recommended daily intake of vitamin C in the diet depends on age and gender. On the other hand, the usage instructions are different in different countries. Pregnant and lactating women need higher amounts of vitamin C in their diet.
- Children between one and ten years old need thirty milligrams of vitamin C daily.
- Children between 11 and 14 years old need thirty five milligrams of vitamin C daily.
- Children over 15 years old and adults need 40 mg of vitamin C daily.
Vitamin C deficiency
Vitamin C deficiency means that the body does not have enough of this nutrient. Over time, the lack of this substance causes new collagen not to be made. For this reason, many tissues of the body have problems and their repair and maintenance are affected. Chronic vitamin C deficiency over a period of three months or more will lead to scurvy.
How common is vitamin C deficiency?
Vitamin C deficiency scurvy is not very common in the UK. People who are at risk of vitamin C deficiency include:
- People addicted to drugs and alcohol who do not have a balanced and healthy diet.
- People who follow special diets in which a group of foods is excluded or restricted.
- Low-income people who cannot afford to buy foods rich in vitamin C.
- People who are unable to digest and absorb food due to digestive diseases such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
- Older people who may not have a varied diet.
- People who smoke. Smoking has a negative effect on the absorption of vitamin C from food.
- On the other hand, vitamin C is consumed faster in the body of smokers.
- Pregnant and lactating women. Because they need more amounts of vitamin C.
What are the symptoms of vitamin C deficiency?
The first symptoms of vitamin C deficiency are:
- Weakness and fatigue.
- Joint and muscle pain.
- Bruising easily.
- Spots that look like small red and blue bruises on the skin.
Other symptoms include:
- skin dryness.
- Hair leprosy.
- Swelling and discoloration of the gums.
- Sudden and unexpected bleeding from the gums.
- Wounds not healing.
- Difficulty overcoming infections.
- Bleeding joints that cause severe joint pain.
- Bone changes.
- Tooth loss.
- lose weight.
If not diagnosed and treated, vitamin C deficiency will lead to shortness of breath, nervous problems, fever and seizures. Bleeding in the brain and around the heart can even lead to death in people whose vitamin C deficiency is not treated. However, the possibility of this happening is very rare.
How is vitamin C deficiency diagnosed?
The diagnosis of vitamin C deficiency is usually made by the doctor after observing the skin symptoms and the condition of the patient’s gums and after examining the risk factors. In order to confirm the doctor’s diagnosis, laboratory tests are usually prescribed. In the laboratory, a person’s blood sample is fully examined. A complete blood count usually detects anemia while bleeding, clotting, and prothrombin time are normal.
Taking X-ray radiographs helps to diagnose scurvy in children, and it usually does not play a role in diagnosing scurvy in adults. More changes can be seen at the ends of the bones, especially the knee bone. The initial changes are usually similar to those that cause atrophy.
The lack of the net of the blades or trabeculae causes the appearance of ground glass or the opacity of the opaque glass in the radiology image. The covering layer of the bone becomes thin. An irregular cartilaginous layer with a high amount of calcium may be seen in the metaphysis. The ends of long bones or epiphysis may be seen compressed in this case on radiological images.
Another way to diagnose vitamin C deficiency is to measure the amount of ascorbic acid in the blood in the laboratory. Samples with a size less than 0.6 mg/dL are usually introduced as borderline samples and samples with a size less than 0.2 mg/dL as vitamin C deficient samples.
Measuring the amount of ascorbic acid with the help of the white blood cell-platelet layer of centrifuged blood is not available in all places and laboratories, or it is not considered a standard diagnostic method.
In adults, scurvy should be distinguished from arthritis, hemorrhagic disorders, gingivitis, and protein-energy malnutrition, as it is often confused with these problems due to similarities. Hyperkeratosis of hair follicles along with increased blood flow to surrounding tissues or hemorrhage are usually one of the main characteristics of this disease.
Bleeding gums, conjunctival bleeding, excessive bleeding, bruising, and bruising are not specific symptoms of vitamin C deficiency.
Treatment of vitamin C deficiency
By adding vitamin C, its deficiency in the diet can be compensated. This can be done by taking vitamin C supplements or by eating foods rich in vitamin C. After some time, you can stop taking vitamin C supplements. However, the consumption of foods rich in this vitamin should continue even after stopping the use of supplements. This will help the person not get vitamin C deficiency again.
People with vitamin C deficiency usually recover completely. When treatment begins with replacement of vitamin C sources, symptoms improve rapidly within days or weeks.
Prevention of vitamin C deficiency
By having a balanced and healthy diet that has sufficient amounts of fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C, the deficiency of this food can be prevented. For example, eating a large orange daily will meet the body’s need for vitamin C to a large extent.