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5 Worrying Signs of Vitamin C Deficiency


Since vitamin C deficiency slows the rate of collagen formation, it causes wounds to heal more slowly (32).

Research has shown that people with chronic, non-healing leg ulcers are significantly more likely to be deficient in vitamin C than those without chronic leg ulcers (33).

In severe cases of vitamin C deficiency, old wounds may even reopen, increasing the risk of infection (3435).

Slow wound healing is one of the more advanced signs of deficiency and typically not seen until someone has been deficient for many months (3637).

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Studies show that v C accumulates inside various types of immune cells to help them combat infection and destroy disease-causing pathogens (3839).

V C deficiency is associated with poor immunity and a higher risk of infection, including serious illnesses like pneumonia (404142).

In fact, many people with scurvy, a disease caused by v C deficiency, eventually die of infection due to their poorly functioning immune systems (43).

Vitamin C Deficiency

Acute v C deficiency leads to scurvy [44]. The timeline for the development of scurvy varies, depending on v C body stores, but signs can appear within 1 month of little or no v C intake (below 10 mg/day) [45]. Initial symptoms can include fatigue (probably the result of impaired carnitine biosynthesis), malaise, and inflammation of the gums [46]. As v C deficiency progresses, collagen synthesis becomes impaired and connective tissues become weakened, causing petechiae, ecchymoses, purpura, joint pain, poor wound healing, hyperkeratosis, and corkscrew hairs [47]. 


Fruits and vegetables are the best sources of vitamin C (see Table 2) [12]. Citrus fruits, tomatoes and tomato juice, and potatoes are major contributors of vitamin C to the American diet [8]. Other good food sources include red and green peppers, kiwifruit, broccoli, strawberries, Brussels sprouts, and cantaloupe (see Table 2) [8,12]. Although vitamin C is not naturally present in grains, it is added to some fortified breakfast cereals. The vitamin C content of food may be reduced by prolonged storage and by cooking because ascorbic acid is water soluble and is destroyed by heat [6,8]. Steaming or microwaving may lessen cooking losses. Fortunately, many of the best food sources of vitamin C, such as fruits and vegetables, are usually consumed raw. Consuming five varied servings of fruits and vegetables a day can provide more than 200 mg of vitamin C.

Find out on the final page what food sources will help you keep your v C levels high. 

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