Vitamin C is an important water-soluble vitamin needed for many functions in the body. It is required for making collagen protein, a vital component of connective tissues. Healthy collagen is key to normal connective tissue formation, which is the basis of healthy blood vessels, skin, hair, cartilage, ligaments and tendons.
While a vitamin C deficiency that results in scurvy is rare these days, it is still easy for individuals to have inadequate vitamin C levels. A vitamin C inadequacy means that vitamin C intakes are below the recommended amounts yet high enough to prevent an overt deficiency (defined as anything less than 10 mg of vitamin C per day).
Our bodies do not make vitamin C, so it is an essential dietary component. While adult women need 75 mg and men need 90 mg of vitamin C daily, some research suggests that vitamin C in high doses (up to 1,000 mg) per day is required for optimal health and disease prevention.
9 warning signs that you need to supplement with vitamin C:
- 1. Bumpy, red, rough or dry skin
- Healthy, normal skin contains high vitamin C levels. Vitamin C works to protect the skin from damage and aging by performing as an antioxidant. It also beneficially boosts the skin’s texture through collagen synthesis. Low vitamin C levels are linked to decreased skin quality. Additionally, when C levels are low, a condition called keratosis pilaris, which causes bumpy, red skin, can arise.
- 2. Coiled hair particles or dry, split hair
- Healthy, strong hair depends on adequate collagen formation. If you’re low on vitamin C then your collagen production decreases. The result is often weak and brittle hair. Abnormally coiled or bent hair is also a hallmark sign of a vitamin C deficiency due to protein structure being impacted by depleted vitamin C levels.
- 3. Easy bruising
- Adequate vitamin C levels are needed for proper collagen production and strong blood vessel structure. If vitamin C is low, then blood vessels can become weak as result of depleted collagen. A bruise occurs when small blood vessels under the skin become weak and break open. Easy bruising is often one of the first signs of a nutrient deficiency.
- 4. Impaired wound healing
- A vitamin C deficiency can lead to longer bleeding times, decreased collagen formation and slower healing time of wounds. Vitamin C is needed to help your immune system fight off infection, lower inflammation and heal wounds.
- 5. Bleeding, swollen gums
- Red, swollen, inflamed or bleeding gums is a sign of a vitamin C deficiency. In fact, research has found that a vitamin C deficiency can be a risk factor for periodontitis, or gum disease (Source). Vitamin C supplementation can help to regulate periodontitis (Source). It is speculated that the mechanism behind this is that vitamin C is required to fight off infection and regenerate healthy tissue.
- 6. Weakened immune system
- Vitamin C works to generate your white blood cells, which are the powerhouse cells of your immune system that fend off bacteria and viruses. Research has shown that adequate levels of vitamin C supports healthy and normal lymphocyte production (Source).
- 7. Frequent nosebleeds
- Weak blood vessels, as a result of low vitamin C and collagen status, can lead to frequent nosebleeds. Adequate vitamin C is needed to synthesize collagen and collagen is needed to strengthen blood vessels. Weakened blood vessels can easily burst and create regular nosebleeds.
- 8. Swollen, painful joints
- Your joints are a collagen-rich tissue that need adequate vitamin C. If you are low in vitamin C then the result could be inflamed, swollen and achy joints. Consuming enough vitamin C is imperative to producing enough collagen, lowering inflammation and creating healthy, strong joints.
- 9. Iron-deficiency anemia
- Vitamin C helps your body absorb iron and is often an indicator of iron status. Often, if you’re deficient in vitamin C then you’re also deficient in iron. The two nutrients go hand in hand. Vitamin C improves the absorption of non-heme iron, the iron that is found in plant foods and has a low absorption rate.
Who is at risk for inadequate or deficient vitamin C levels?
- Excessive alcoholic intake has been identified as a risk factor for a vitamin C deficiency including the deficiency- associated condition, scurvy (Source). There is increased systemic inflammation in alcoholics that can rapidly deplete vitamin C levels.
- Individuals with anorexia or other eating disorders
- Eating disorders can lead to nutrient deficiencies through inadequate intake of nutrients like vitamin C.
- Individuals with malabsorption disorders
- Some medical conditions such as severe intestinal malabsorption or cachexia can put individuals at risk for decreased vitamin C levels due to reduced absorption of vitamin C and other nutrients.
- Individuals with a limited food variety
- Food variety is key to preventing nutritional deficiencies. A wide variety of fruits and vegetables contain vitamin C. If your diet is lacking in variety of these healthy foods, you could be at risk for a vitamin C inadequacy or deficiency.
- Smokers have reduced vitamin C levels due to the increased oxidative stress they have their body. Exposure to second hand smoke also depletes vitamin C levels.
How do I know if I have inadequate or deficient vitamin C levels?
Get your vitamin C levels checked with the best micronutrient testing in the world. This micronutrient test analyzes the level of micronutrients (like vitamin C) that are in your blood and also the level in your cells (where these nutrients belong).
If you think you could have a deficiency, it’s important to get your blood and cellular levels measured.
How do I supplement?
A vitamin C inadequacy or deficiency can be treated with a vitamin C supplement and proper diet rich in vitamin C.
We recommend our Super C. This supplement contains a highly absorbable form of vitamin C that is well-tolerated by the body.
Take 1 capsule per day, or as directed by your physician.
Taking Super C daily helps to boost immunity, protect the skin, support healthy blood pressure, increase blood vessel health, protect the heart and support optimal health.
Health benefits of vitamin C:
- Vitamin C helps form collagen
- Vitamin C improves heart health
- Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can regenerate other antioxidants
- Vitamin C works to repair tissues
- Vitamin C boosts immunity
- Vitamin C can reduce Gout symptoms
- High dose vitamin C has an anti-histamine effect that can reduce symptoms of colds
- Vitamin C can help boost the absorption of other nutrients
There are many reasons to get more vitamin C daily.