Vitamin C is essential for maintaining good health. It strengthens the immune system, switches off free radicals and is involved in the development of connective tissue. Since the human body is unable to produce or effectively store this vitamin on its own, it comes to one quickly Vitamin C deficiency.
As Vitamin C deficiency As the name suggests, it denotes an insufficient amount of ascorbic acid in the body. Deficiency symptoms trigger various complaints, which can manifest themselves in different symptoms. These often cannot be assigned to a defect immediately and can be very unspecific. Since vitamin C is involved in many processes in the human body, a permanent deficiency can lead to various diseases. Often the general well-being is disturbed by such a deficiency.
On the one hand, vitamin C is involved in hormone synthesis, but on the other hand it also promotes the absorption of iron in the small intestine. It also binds heavy metals such as nickel, lead and cadmium. It increases the body's immune defenses and strengthens bones and muscles. In contrast to an overdose of many other vitamins, an overdose of vitamin C does not cause any discomfort in the body. As long as it is supplied through food and not via separate preparations, there are no side effects to fear.
As a rule, excess vitamin C is excreted in the urine. It is soluble in water. Dietary supplements, on the other hand, can cause problems in the digestive tract due to their dehydrating effect. They should only be taken in an extreme emergency and not replace the daily portion of fruit and vegetables.
The main causes of a vitamin C deficiency are the inadequate intake of the vitamin from food. An appropriate lifestyle can also make a significant contribution. Smoking, oral contraceptives and the intake of acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin) also promote vitamin deficiency. Antibiotics have a similar effect. The reason for this is a lower absorption capacity of the body when the intake was initially sufficient.
He is no longer able to absorb the vitamin from food and excretes it unprocessed. Therefore, smokers in particular are recommended to have a 50 percent higher vitamin C intake to prevent deficiency symptoms. It looks similar with various diseases. Gastrointestinal diseases in particular can reduce the body's absorption capacity.
Fresh fruit is one of the most important suppliers of vitamin C. Citrus fruits and berries in particular have a high vitamin C content. Paprika and various types of cabbage also help to balance out daily needs. The German Nutrition Society recommends around 100 milligrams of vitamin C per day for adults. Pregnant and breastfeeding women also have a higher requirement, which is between 110 and 150 milligrams.
The signs of a vitamin C deficiency can be varied. A high susceptibility to infections is common because the immune system works worse. But also tiredness, lack of concentration and cold symptoms such as pain in the limbs and joints are not uncommon. The body's ability to heal wounds may be reduced, which often increases the risk of bleeding.
This way, hematomas develop faster. In addition, the affected person's skin can be rough, dry, and flaky. Depending on the duration and severity of the deficiency, it is also possible to loosen the teeth. Not all symptoms of vitamin C deficiency are clear. Even more unspecific complaints are possible, which as a rule cannot be clearly assigned. Often with a vitamin C deficiency, the general condition is disturbed. Those affected feel weak, sick and drained.
In addition, people with vitamin C deficiency were found to have an above-average frequency of depression. A doctor should be consulted, especially if there is frequent bleeding of the mucous membranes, especially the gums.
He will usually ask about the patient's lifestyle and previous illnesses. Interviewing the patient (anamnesis) precedes the examination. The more pronounced the symptoms, the faster the doctor can conclude that there is a possible deficiency. The diagnosis is made by taking a blood sample.
The patient's blood is checked for deficiency symptoms in the laboratory. In this way a clear diagnosis can be made. In the following, the physician will initiate further examinations, if necessary, to rule out the diseases that cause the deficiency.
A deficiency in vitamin C has negative effects on the entire body. The most famous complication is scurvy. This disease occurs after about four to eight weeks of a deficiency and manifests itself, for example, by bleeding and growths of the gums and the characteristic grayish-yellow skin. If there is no comprehensive treatment at the latest, the affected person's teeth will fall out and serious complications of the bones and joints will occur.
Bone bleeding, joint inflammation and wound healing disorders are typical, but also heart failure and declining physical and mental performance. This is usually accompanied by depression. In infants and young children, a deficiency in vitamin C can cause bone growth disorders. As the disease progresses, it develops into Möller-Barlow disease, a special form of anemia that can lead to death in babies.
Correcting a vitamin C deficiency early on can prevent these complications. However, treatment with dietary supplements carries the risk of vitamin poisoning. Possible side effects from additives cannot be ruled out either.Intravenous administration of vitamin C can cause infections, injuries to nerves and muscles, and other complications.
A vitamin C deficiency is associated with very unspecific symptoms in the initial phase. These include tiredness, weakness, slight muscle pain, an increased susceptibility to infections and a general lack of drive. These symptoms can have numerous causes and are not a clear indication of a vitamin C deficiency. In addition, the absorption of vitamin C in the body can be temporarily impaired by temporary factors such as smoking, medication (contraceptives, aspirin) or metabolic disorders, but normalize in the further course. A visit to the general practitioner at this early stage is not absolutely necessary, but it can still be helpful to clarify the actual causes of the unspecific symptoms.
In the further course of a vitamin C deficiency, very specific symptoms appear. These include inflamed and bleeding gums, delayed wound healing, edema, bleeding, increasing joint pain and a decreased ability to produce collagen. The latter causes a weakening of the connective tissue and can lead to further bleeding in the skin, especially in the area of the thigh.
Furthermore, the bleeding can occur over a large area as well as punctually. In extreme cases, bleeding into the eyes and mucous membranes is possible. Due to the permanently inflamed gums, there is still a risk of tooth loss. In this acute phase, a doctor's visit is mandatory. In addition to the general practitioner, a dentist and, if necessary, an internist should also be consulted to rule out a permanent metabolic disease.
If the result of the blood test shows a vitamin C deficiency, it primarily makes sense to change your lifestyle and, in particular, your diet. A conscious diet can help improve your overall well-being. Those affected should consume more fruit and vegetables. If other diseases have been found that negatively affect the absorption of vitamin C, these should be treated separately.
Basically, a health professional will advise you to give up or reduce smoking. Apart from that, vitamin C supplements are often used in the early days to bring the vitamin C level back into a regulated path. This not only improves your general well-being - the symptoms also usually disappear within a short time.
Since vitamin C is sensitive to heat, light and air, it makes sense to eat fruit when it is still fresh. It should also be stored in the refrigerator, as this will keep the vitamins longer. Frozen food often contains more vitamins than fruit that is a few days old In order to prevent a vitamin C deficiency, it is important to consume fruits and vegetables daily. In the industrialized countries, a vitamin C deficiency has become rather rare.
Vitamin C fulfills important functions in the human body and must therefore be continuously consumed in sufficient doses through food. If the vitamin C stores are replenished after successful treatment of the deficiency, patients must continue to ensure an adequate supply of the vitamin in the long term.
The necessary aftercare depends accordingly on the underlying disease causing it and its successful treatment. If the cause of the deficiency could be treated without lasting consequences, a sufficient supply of vitamin C can be ensured with the help of a balanced, varied diet. High-quality vitamin C suppliers that can be used optimally by the body are above all fresh fruit and vegetables as well as liver.
A long-term intake of food supplements containing the vitamin in high doses is not necessary, however. If, on the other hand, the diagnosed deficiency could be traced back to a serious, persistent disease such as cancer, it may be useful to take medication to provide permanent care for the body.
An increased need for vitamin C, for example in the case of intense physical exertion in competitive sports, the use of certain medications or alcohol abuse, can make long-term drug treatment necessary. In such cases, vitamin C supplements should always be taken in consultation with a doctor and should be promptly adapted to changing circumstances. The basis of aftercare is always a conscious diet with a vitamin C-containing diet.
A vitamin C deficiency can be remedied by a targeted change in diet. The menu should be balanced and consist of varied foods and drinks. In addition to fruit and vegetables, liver and fish also contain a lot of vitamin C.
In the event of severe deficiency symptoms, the doctor should be consulted. This is especially necessary in the case of complaints such as fever or joint inflammation, as the symptoms indicate a severe deficiency which, in the worst case, can even cause heart failure. The doctor can prescribe suitable nutritional supplements to alleviate the symptoms. Vitamin C supplements are particularly useful in the event of a vitamin C deficiency as a result of a gastrointestinal disease, as the weakened intestinal tract cannot extract enough vitamins from food. Finally, if you have a vitamin C deficiency, you should do enough exercise. Physical activity stimulates the metabolism and thus contributes to a better absorption of vitamins.
Which steps make sense to quickly remedy the deficiency also depends on the cause. Therefore, a vitamin C deficiency should always be discussed with your family doctor or an internist. Serious underlying diseases must be ruled out before the deficiency can be remedied in the long term.