With a vitamin C deficiency is not to joke. On the contrary: ascorbic acid or colloquially vitamin C is vital for our body. A deficiency can therefore have serious consequences.
But how common is such a thing and how does it come to a deficiency of vitamin C in the first place? And more importantly, how can such a deficiency be detected and treated?
The answers can be found here.
Vitamin C deficiency and scurvy – Is there a difference?
Most people are probably familiar with the disease scurvy from early seafaring. The sailors ate little fresh food due to their long time at the sea, which meant that they lacked important nutrients.
Since the adequate supply of vitamin C on long voyages was difficult, large parts of the crew often fell ill with scurvy. Starting with bleeding gums and other symptoms, the disease often led to the death of the affected person.
Scientists even assume that over time more than two million sailors fell victim to the disease.
But back to the present: If you eat without vitamin C for a long time, this leads to scurvy. Does this mean that vitamin C deficiency and scurvy are the same thing?
No! A clear distinction should be made here. An undersupply of vitamins, including a vitamin C deficiency, is much more harmless, especially at the beginning. Scurvy or technical (vitamin) C-avitaminosis only sets in after some time. Usually it takes several months without vitamin C until you get sick with scurvy.
However, a vitamin C deficiency exists much earlier. After all, numerous functions of our body depend on a sustained supply of ascorbic acid.
This is how common vitamin C deficiency is
Although scurvy is fortunately history and occurs especially in this country only in isolated cases, a deficiency of vitamin C is probably more common than you think.
Basically, one is relatively well supplied with vitamins in Germany, which means that especially serious deficiencies are rare. However, between 2005 and 2007, the National Consumption Study II was conducted. It shows that there is a need for improvement in the supply of vitamin C, among other things.
The large-scale study took a close look at the diets of almost 20,000 Germans between the age of 14 and 80. The result: Between 25 and 50 percent did not meet the requirements of the German Nutrition Society with regard to the intake of vitamin C and were therefore virtually undersupplied.
Even though minimal undersupply of vitamin C is usually harmless, it should not be taken lightly. From our cell metabolism to the skin and immune system, our body eventually needs the vitamin to function properly.
In addition to an undersupply of the diet, there are also other causes that can lead to a vitamin C deficiency. Especially people with chronic diseases of the digestive tract can often not absorb enough vitamins from food and thus develop symptoms of malnutrition.
So let’s take a look at how such a lack of vitamin C can make itself felt.
These symptoms cause you to recognize a vitamin C deficiency
As already mentioned, vitamin C deficiency is not the same as scurvy. A slight undersupply is much harder to notice and diagnose, as the symptoms are more general in nature.
Early symptoms of vitamin C deficiency include:
- Fatigue and physical weakness
- mild muscle and joint pain
- Tendency to form bruises under the skin
- Dry skin
If the deficiency persists or worsens, scurvy may occur. The symptoms of a severe vitamin C deficiency are:
- Severe muscle and joint pain
- Tendency to bleeding such as nose or gum bleeding for no reason
- worsened wound healing
- Weight loss
- swollen and darkly discolored gums in connection with loosening and loss of teeth
- Water retention in the tissue
In particularly severe cases of scurvy, there may even be bleeding in the eyes or brain.
How can your doctor diagnose a vitamin C deficiency?
Since many of the above symptoms can also be due to other diseases, it is often not so easy to diagnose a vitamin C deficiency with certainty.
If such an undersupply is suspected, a blood test is therefore usually ordered. This allows the vitamin level in the body and thus also an existing deficiency to be detected relatively accurately.
So if you often feel tired and weak or tend to bleed, it is off to the family doctor! There could be a vitamin deficiency behind it.
How can a deficiency be treated?
A lack of vitamin C can be effectively compensated by diet or taking dietary supplements.
Above all, the decisive factor is whether certain pre-existing conditions exist. Likewise, some people suffer from allergies that make it difficult to absorb vitamin C.
In case of doubt, you should therefore always consult your doctor.
How to effectively prevent vitamin C deficiency
As with the supply of most essential nutrients, nutrition is the key to success with vitamins.
Since vitamin C cannot be stored in the body for a long time, it is all the more important to ensure a steady supply of sufficient ascorbic acid.
In addition to the well-known citrus fruits, peppers, cabbage and rose hips are real vitamin C bombs.
It is particularly important that the vegetables or fruits are not cooked, as the vitamin C contained is lost as a result. For vitamin C, you should rather reach for the salad than the vegetable soup.
If you want enough vitamin C without paying attention to your diet, dietary supplements can help you.
In any case, this will ensure that you get all the important nutrients you need. A defect can not arise in the first place.