Vitamin C is an essential nutrient that must be consumed regularly to prevent deficiency. The most common risk factors for vitamin C deficiency are poor diet, alcoholism, anorexia, severe mental illness, smoking and dialysis. While symptoms of severe vitamin C deficiency can take months to develop, there are some subtle signs to watch out for.
Here are the top 5 signs and symptoms of vitamin C deficiency.
1. Dry, split hair
When your hair is healthy and shiny, it’s a good sign that you’re eating a balanced diet. When your ends 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.
2. Slow wound healing
Your body’s healing mechanism is dependent, in part, on vitamin C: The immune response that works to repair wounds and fights infection relies on vitamin C. The nutrient also helps with the formation of collagen, which strengthens the scar tissue that forms over wounds. With a vitamin C deficiency, this process is less efficient, causing longer bleeding and slower healing.
3. Easy bruising
When small blood vessels right under the surface of your skin burst, you end up with a bruise. 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.
4. 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 to prevent infections. Frequent wound infections or suffering from common infections like the flu, UTIs, or strep throat is an indication of a weak immune system. Getting enough vitamin C can boost your immunity .
5. Swollen and painful joints
Since the cartilage in your joints is largely made of collagen, low vitamin C levels can result in less padding between bones and joints. That paves the way for inflammation and swelling, and when your diet is lacking in vitamin C, your body has less ability to respond to that inflammation. Consuming enough vitamin C allows your body to produce the collagen it needs to have healthy, strong joints. Healthy collagen production is just one of many other benefits of vitamin C.