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11 Symptoms and Health Risks of Vitamin C Deficiency|Natural Sources of Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin and provides us with many health benefits. It is also known as ascorbic acid. Our body can’t make it so we need to have it through food items or supplements. Vitamin C helps to absorb the iron taken from plant-based food items, so it is important for vegetarians and vegans.

Vitamin C helps our body to boost the immune system and speed up the healing of wounds. Continuous intake of an adequate amount of Vitamin C has been associated with a reduced risk of cataract development in the process of ageing. Vitamin C is one of the most significant vitamins with so many benefits. Thus, Vitamin C is very important for our health but what if you don’t have it in an adequate amount? Let us now know 11 Symptoms and Health Risks associated with Vitamin C Deficiency.(1, 2)

11 Symptoms and Health Risks of Vitamin C Deficiency

The developed countries are rich in terms of the accessibility and availability of freshly produced foods, because of which deficiency of vitamin C is relatively low as compared to the developing countries.

Alcoholism, anorexia (eating disorder), poor diet (unbalanced or improper), dialysis, smoking and severe mental illness can be some of the major factors that may result in Vitamin C deficiency. Severe Vitamin C deficiency symptoms may take months to affect your system. There are some signs and symptoms that you can look for to keep a regular check of the deficiency:(3, 4, 5)

If your vitamin C deficiency is severe, then it may lead to scurvy. In this condition, the symptoms include tiredness, anaemia, swollen joints, loose teeth, bleeding gums etc.(1)

Mentioned below are the 11 Symptoms and Health Risks of Vitamin C Deficiency you should watch out for:

  1. Ageing Signs:

    We all know that Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, this property helps you stay protected from the effects of harmful free radicals. So if you include enough Vitamin C in your diet, you can enjoy soft and smooth skin and it also helps delay signs of ageing.(1, 3)

  2. Low Immunity Level:

    The deficiency of Vitamin C results in low immunity level. You can get sick easily and can have a hard time recovering. As per a research, Vitamin C helps you protect from some health conditions, for example, bladder infections and pneumonia. It also plays a vital role in making your heart healthy and protecting you from some types of cancers.(13)

  3. Slow Healing of Bruises And Wounds:

    When we get injured, the vitamin C levels in the blood and tissues drop. Our body requires it to make collagen, a protein that plays a vital role in the process of skin repairing. Vitamin C helps neutrophils to work properly. Neutrophils are a type of white blood cell which helps our body to cure any infection. So if the Vitamin C level is low in our body, then the wound healing process slows down.(14)

  4. Weight Gain

    As per a research, if you have Vitamin C deficiency then you may gain weight faster, especially it leads to belly fat. Vitamin C plays a vital role in burning body fat into energy.(15)

  5. Fatigue and Depression

    If you are suffering from Vitamin C deficiency, you can feel tired and depressed all day long. This condition may occur because of several other reasons and Vitamin C deficiency is one of them. As per a study done on 141 people in an office, they feel energetic within an hour or two of taking Vitamin C supplements and they feel refreshed all day long.(16)

  6. Pain in Joints:

    You can experience painful joints if you are suffering from Vitamin C deficiency. This is because the cartilage of our joints mainly consists of collagen. Low vitamin C levels in the body can also cause swelling and inflammation around the bones and joints. (17)

  7. Anaemia and Iron Deficiency:

    As we know Vitamin C plays a vital role in absorbing the iron from the food we have, so its deficiency can result in iron deficiency and anaemia. So, you need to include an adequate amount of Vitamin C along with iron in your diet to protect yourself from anaemia.(18)

  8. Rough Skin or Lumps on the Skin:

    Vitamin C is a very important component in the production of collagen. Collagen is present in the connective tissues such as our bones, joints, blood vessels, hair and skin.(6)

    Lack of vitamin C can cause bumpy ‘chicken skin’ to appear on the back of buttocks, thighs or upper arms because of keratin’s build-up inside the pores. This condition is known as keratosis pilaris and occurs due to low levels of Vitamin C in our body for continuous 3-5 months. It can be treated with the proper intake of natural sources and supplements of Vitamin C.(7)

    Be acknowledged that Keratosis pilaris may occur due to vitamin C deficiency but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are deficient in the vitamin, as this condition can develop due to many other factors as well.(8)

  9. Red Coloured Hair Follicles:

    On our outer layer of the skin, hair follicles are present which consist of tiny blood vessels. These blood vessels provide nutrients and blood to the particular area. The deficiency of Vitamin C in our body makes these tiny blood vessels delicate. As a result, tiny red bright spots emerge around the hair follicles.(9, 10)

    This condition is a well-researched symptom of severe Vitamin C deficiency and it is called Perifollicular Hemorrhage. One can get rid of this problem within 2 weeks by taking Vitamin C supplements after consulting with a doctor.(11)

  10. Corkscrew-Shaped, Weak and Uprooted Body Hair:

    If you are suffering from vitamin C deficiency, it may cause defects to the structure of hair, which tends to grow the hair in a bent or coiled shape known as corkscrew-shaped hair.

    But as these hair are damaged and weak, they are likely to fall off. Because of this, corkscrew-shaped hair is not a specific parameter to check for your symptoms as they are unnoticeable, even after being the sure consequence of vitamin C deficiency. This problem related to hair strength and shape can be treated in around a month by adequate intake of vitamin C.(9, 10, 11)

  11. Spoon-Shaped Fingernails Having Red Spots:

    Concave shape, fragility and thinning are some of the characteristics of spoon-shaped nails. This condition occurs not only due to anaemia, but it is the result of Vitamin C deficiency as well.(7, 12)

    All these health issues can be treated by taking Vitamin C rich food or supplements. For best results, consult a doctor if you have any severe symptoms. Let us now know about the sources of vitamin C:

Food Sources of Vitamin C:

For natural sources of vitamin C, one may consider fresh vegetables as well as fruits and juices. The suggested daily dose of Vitamin C for an adult male is 90mg and for the female, it is 75mg. Unexpectedly, some vegetables have higher vitamin C content when compared to some fruits. Below are mentioned a few highly vitamin C enriched fruits, juices and vegetables:

  • Kiwi Fruit: 64 mg each fruit
  • Red Peppers: 95 mg per serving
  • Cauliflower: 26 mg per serving
  • Orange Juice: 93 mg per serving
  • Tomato Juice: 33 mg per serving
  • Broccoli: 51 mg per serving
  • Strawberries: 49 mg per serving

So, include these food items in your diet no matter if you have Vitamin C deficiency or not. This habit will let you enjoy lots of health benefits.(1)


The benefits of including vitamin C in our diet are being discovered almost every day. A proper and balanced diet should include an adequate amount of vitamin C to prevent its deficiency. Vitamin C sources such as fresh fruits, vegetables and supplements are easily available in the market. In case of any doubt about including vitamin C in your diet, you should consult your doctor.


Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:December 13, 2021

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