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10 Signs Of Vitamin C Deficiency


Vitamin C is also known as ascorbic acid. It is considered essential for the optimum functioning of blood vessels.

Vitamin C also plays a crucial role in iron absorption in the body. The absorption of iron is pivotal for the development of red blood cells. 

Thus, Vitamin c is essential for a lot of bodily functions. For example, it is required to make collagen, a fibrous protein in connective tissue. 

Vitamin C also plays a crucial role in fighting infections and healing wounds. In addition, it is a potent antioxidant and might help neutralize harmful free radicals in your body.

In addition, vitamins help make hormones and chemical messengers that transmit information in the brain and nerves.

Hence, you can say that there are several benefits to vitamin c. Therefore, one must try to maintain an optimum level of vitamin c in the body.

The most common causes of deficiency of vitamin C may be poor diet, alcoholism, anorexia, severe mental illness, smoking, and dialysis.

The symptoms of vitamin C deficiency might not be visible immediately. It may take months to develop.

Thus, the following are a few of the most noticeable signs of vitamin c deficiency-

Signs Of vitamin c deficiency

  1. Anemia

    For the absorption of iron in the body, vitamin C is an essential component that should be present in adequate amounts in your diet.

    Anemia is a condition[1] in which the blood does not provide enough oxygen throughout the body.

    Symptoms of anemia occur after more than 1-2 months. Vitamin C deficiency can also cause excessive bleeding, increasing the risk of anemia.

    Taking iron supplements is not enough unless you also consume vitamin C foods to absorb iron in the body.

  2. Scurvy

    Scurvy is considered[2] a hallmark of vitamin C deficiency. The symptoms of scurvy include malaise, fatigue, and lethargy at the initial stages.

    It has been observed that if a person suffers from a deficiency of vitamin C for three months, they may experience anemia, weak bones, skin and hair problems, and lousy gum health.

    Research[3] conducted on animals has found that vitamin C deficiency can negatively impact brain development and body weight.

  3. Bleeding gums and tooth loss

    Swelling and bleeding in gums are common symptoms of vitamin C deficiency.

    Vitamin C keeps the blood vessels healthy. When a person develops a deficiency of vitamin C, the gums tissue develops swelling and becomes weak and inflamed.

    Vitamin C deficiency can cause gingivitis, a gum disease that causes[4] irritation, redness, swelling, and inflammation.

    Mild vitamin C deficiency can be related to metabolic syndrome and periodontal factors.

    Taking vitamin C supplements or including vitamin-c-rich foods in your diet can reduce gum bleeding and may improve the symptoms of gingivitis.

  4. Weak immunity

    Vitamin C can help your body fight diseases. It is essential[5] for solid immunity. People with vitamin C deficiency are more likely to fall sick.

    Vitamin C accumulates inside different immune cells, which helps the body fight various infections.

    A poor immunity makes your body weak to fight diseases. 

    Vitamin C increases the production of white blood cells, the primary factor responsible for fighting foreign invasions into your body.

    Vitamin C may also protect you from pneumonia and bladder infection. In addition, vitamin C is also rich in antioxidants, which help build immunity.

  5. Damage to hair and nails

    If you notice changes in your hair loss patterns and issues with nail health, it could be due to a deficiency of Vitamin C.

    Hair and nails are non-essential tissues. Excessive hair fall could[6] be due to a lack of this antioxidant vitamin c.

    The body supplies whatever vitamins and nutrition are available in the body to the essential tissues as a result of this.

    The earliest signs of vitamin C deficiency are visible on hair and nails. Iron deficiency can further lead[7] to slow hair growth and concave nails.

  6. Abrupt changes in body weight

    You must have read or heard to increase your vitamin C intake if you have ever tried to lose weight. Lack of vitamin C in the body leads to the deposition of fats.

    If you notice a sudden accumulation of fat tissues around the belly, it could be a sign of vitamin C deficiency.

    This is because the body’s ability to lose fat depends on the amount of vitamin C the body can absorb.

    There is an inverse relationship between fat distribution and the presence[8] of vitamin C in the body.

    A sudden or unexpected change in weight could be a reason you might have low vitamin C levels of vitamin c in your body.

  7. Damaged and wrinkled skin

    People who eat vitamin C-rich foods have healthier, smoother, and softer skin. Vitamin C is present in higher concentrations in normal skins.

    Our skin might undergo damage as it is exposed to various pollutants like cigarettes, smoke, and UV rays from the sun.

    Vitamin C protects[9] our skin from these pollutants, UV rays, and photodamage. It also promotes the production of collagen, which helps in maintaining a healthy skin quality.

    Individuals who consume more vitamin C-rich foods are less prone to wrinkle appearances.

    If you notice abrupt changes in the quality of your skin and the appearance of wrinkles, it may result from a vitamin C deficiency.

    However, you should also examine other symptoms to confirm vitamin C deficiency because skin problems may also arise due to several other reasons.

  8. Slow healing of wounds

    Vitamin C is responsible[10] for forming collagen in the body that may accelerate bone healing after a fracture and other musculoskeletal tissues.

    Collagen is connective tissue, mainly a component of skin, muscles, and tendons. It helps to heal injured areas on the skin.

    As per this study[11], a lack of collagen in the body leads to the slow healing of wounds. The deficiency of vitamin C can lead to slow repair of injured skin.

    This may also make you vulnerable to several infections resulting from a lack of immunity due to vitamin C deficiency.

  9. Weak bones, muscle pain, and swollen joints

    Vitamin C plays a key role[12] in strengthening the bones. Its deficiency might weaken bones and make you more vulnerable to fracture.

    Lack of adequate amounts of vitamin C in the body can lead to a faster loss of bones.

    Especially in the initial stages of life, vitamin C is extremely important for the proper development of the bones.

    Osteoporosis can also result[13] from the deficiency of vitamin C, as lack of this vitamin decreases bone mineral density.

    Therefore, if you witness symptoms like brittle bones or weak bones, you must check with your doctor to find out if your body is deficient in vitamin C.

    In addition, swollen joints are another symptom you may experience.

    People who lack adequate amounts of vitamin C are more prone to develop[14] rheumatoid arthritis.

    Your bones, muscles, and joints can become brittle and painful if you are not consuming proper amounts of vitamin C.

    it may cause bleeding at the end of the joints, which would further add to the pain and swelling.

    However, the good part is that all these problems can easily be cured by taking vitamin C supplements for a few weeks.

  10. Tiredness

    Symptoms such as tiredness, fatigue, and lack of energy can appear during the initial month of the deficiency, as per this government paper[15].

    People with a deficiency of vitamin C are more prone to irritation.

    At the later stage of developing the deficiency, you may experience symptoms like anemia and low immunity, making you feel tired and less energetic.

The essence

Vitamin C deficiency could lead to various serious illnesses. Therefore it is essential to identify symptoms at an early stage.

Generally, vitamin C supplements fix these symptoms. Fewer people have developed this deficiency due to increased living standards.

Thus, maintaining vitamin C levels is essential, and one could do the same by consuming a high-nutrition diet and following a healthier lifestyle.


Working4Health prefers using primary and verified references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and our primary references include peer-reviewed research, academic, and medical institution studies.

  1. Anemia.Available from https://medlineplus.gov/anemia.html
  2. Daniel Léger. Scurvy. Can Fam Physician. 2008 Oct; 54(10): 1403–1406. 
  3. Stine Normann Hansen, Pernille Tveden-Nyborg, and Jens Lykkesfeldt Does Vitamin C Deficiency Affect Cognitive Development and Function? Nutrients. 2014 Sep; 6(9): 3818–3846.Published online 2014 Sep 19. doi: 10.3390/nu6093818
  4. Manu Rathee; Prachi Jain. Gingivitis. Available from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK557422/
  5. Anitra C. Carr and Silvia Maggini. Vitamin C and Immune Function. Nutrients. 2017 Nov; 9(11): 1211. Published online 2017 Nov 3. doi: 10.3390/nu9111211
  6. Hind M. Almohanna, Azhar A. Ahmed, John P. Tsatalis, et al. The Role of Vitamins and Minerals in Hair Loss: A Review. Dermatol Ther (Heidelb). 2019 Mar; 9(1): 51–70. Published online 2018 Dec 13. doi: 10.1007/s13555-018-0278-6
  7. Song Youn Park, Se Young Na, Jun Hwan Kim, et al. Iron Plays a Certain Role in Patterned Hair Loss J Korean Med Sci. 2013 Jun; 28(6): 934–938.Published online 2013 Jun 3. doi: 10.3346/jkms.2013.28.6.934
  8. Carol S Johnston. Strategies for healthy weight loss: from vitamin C to the glycemic response. Review J Am Coll Nutr. 2005 Jun;24(3):158-65. doi: 10.1080/07315724.2005.10719460. Available from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15930480/
  9. Juliet M. Pullar, Anitra C. Carr, and Margreet C. M. Vissers. The Roles of Vitamin C in Skin Health. Nutrients. 2017 Aug; 9(8): 866. Published online 2017 Aug 12. doi: 10.3390/nu9080866
  10. Nicholas N. DePhillipo, Zachary S. Aman, Mitchell I. Kennedy, et al. Efficacy of Vitamin C Supplementation on Collagen Synthesis and Oxidative Stress After Musculoskeletal Injuries: A Systematic Review. Orthop J Sports Med. 2018 Oct;6(10): 2325967118804544. Published online 2018 Oct 25. doi: 10.1177/2325967118804544
  11. S. Guo and L.A. DiPietro Factors Affecting Wound Healing J Dent Res. 2010 Mar; 89(3): 219–229.doi: 10.1177/0022034509359125
  12. Kok-Yong Chin , Soelaiman Ima-Nirwana. Vitamin C and Bone Health: Evidence from Cell, Animal and Human Studies. Review. Curr Drug Targets. 2018;19(5):439-450. doi: 10.2174/1389450116666150907100838. Available from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26343111/
  13. Alicja Ewa Ratajczak , Aleksandra Szymczak-Tomczak, et al. Vitamin C Deficiency and the Risk of Osteoporosis in Patients with an Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Review. Nutrients. 2020 Jul 29;12(8):2263.doi: 10.3390/nu12082263. Available from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32751086/
  14. Anitra C. Carr and Cate McCall The role of vitamin C in the treatment of pain: new insights J Transl Med. 2017; 15: 77.Published online 2017 Apr 14. doi: 10.1186/s12967-017-1179-7
  15. Luke Maxfield; Jonathan S. Crane. Vitamin C Deficiency Last Update: July 4, 2022. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493187/

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