Vitamins and minerals play a significant role when it comes to obtaining adequate nutrition and staying healthy. Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, contributes to cell growth and repair, circulation, and iron absorption. It is also important for the production of collagen, a protein found in blood vessels, skin, cartilage, ligaments, and tendons. In most parts of the world, serious vitamin C deficiency (or scurvy) is relatively uncommon because vitamin C is found naturally in many foods and is added to other food as well. However, smoking, excessive alcohol use, a compromised diet, or certain medical conditions can result in lowered levels of vitamin C in the body.
According to medical center experts at the University of Maryland, vitamin C deficiency has been linked to various medical problems like atherosclerosis, certain cancers, gallbladder disease, and high blood pressure. Animal studies also indicate that low levels of vitamin C can lead to biochemical changes in the body which affect behavior.
A study from Vanderbilt University found that mice deprived of vitamin C showed depressive-like behavior, reduced movement and strength, and greater preference for sugar. Behaviors returned to normal with restoration of vitamin C, with the exception of depressive-like symptoms.
Signs of Vitamin C Deficiency
People with scurvy often develop anemia and swollen, bleeding gums. Additional signs and symptoms that may indicate a vitamin C deficiency include brittle hair, easily bruised skin, and nosebleeds.
Related: Vitamin E Deficiency
Sources of Vitamin C
Because it is water soluble, vitamin C is not stored by the body. This means people need to get it through food or supplements. Some excellent food sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, mangoes, papayas, bell peppers, strawberries, broccoli, and kale. Vitamin C supplements come in tablets, capsules, effervescent powders, and liquids. People who depend on supplements for vitamin C should strive for 250-500 mg, twice a day.
Vitamin C deficiency can result in a number of uncomfortable symptoms. Fortunately, they can be prevented with the consumption of certain foods or supplements. People who are concerned about a vitamin C deficiency should first consult with a health care professional to rule out other possibilities.