Ascorbic acid, commonly known as vitamin C, is one of the most essential nutrients that protect the body. In order to combat serious health problems and common sickness, the body needs regular doses of vitamin C. Low intake of vitamin C can lead to diseases such as scurvy, periodontitis, iron deficiency, anemia, and more. Here are nine early warning signs that your body needs more vitamin C.
1. Your Gums Will Start to Swell and Bleed
If oral health matters to you, then you should make sure to get plenty of vitamin C. There’s a reason why two of the most common diseases associated with low levels of vitamin C are scurvy and periodontitis (1). When your body lacks this nutrient, your gums swell, recede, become inflamed, and bleed easily.
Vitamin C plays a vital role in strengthening epithelium tissue. On the gums, this type of tissue acts as a protective shield against bacteria that might cause dental diseases. According to a study published in the American Society for Microbiology, low vitamin C level has been linked to periodontitis, which can cause gum damage or infection and in more serious cases lead to tooth loss (2).
2. Your Hair Gets Dry and Damaged
When the body absorbs vitamin C, it first goes to important organs and tissues before making its way to your hair. Free radicals cause oxidative stress, which damages cellular structures (3). As you grow older, vitamin C can help fight off the increasing number of free radicals in your body.
In addition, vitamin C affects hair growth, as it helps the body absorb more iron. According to a study published in the Journal of Korean Medical Science, a lack of iron exacerbates hair loss (4).
3. You Frequently Get Nosebleeds
The regular intake of vitamin C helps keep your capillaries (small blood vessels) flexible. This happens with the help of collagen, which maintains the health of connective tissue. Since the nose has many of these small blood vessels, inadequate intake of vitamin C can cause these capillaries to weaken and tear.
4. You Develop Rough, Dry, and Red Skin
If your skin turns red and feels rough and dry to touch, then your body might not be getting enough vitamin C. One of the key functions of vitamin C is to offer antioxidant protection in order to fight UV-induced damage and stimulate collagen synthesis (5).
Vitamin C deficiency can lead to Keratosis pilaris, which is a skin condition that occurs in people of any age. It causes mild itching and is characterized by rough patches on cheeks, upper arms, thighs, and buttocks. The good news is that it’s not a severe skin condition and reverses easily with adequate intake of vitamin C and use of moisturizers (6).
5. You Easily Bruise
Vitamin C deficiency makes your capillaries weak, which results in blood vessels rupturing. According to a study published in the BMJ case reports, bruising caused by the lack of vitamin C goes away immediately with a supplement (7). Ideally, you should aim to eat foods rich in vitamin C but if you’re short on time, you can take supplements of about 400 mg along with 400 mg of flavonoids.
6. Your Wounds Take Time to Heal
Vitamin C deficiency can slow down the wound healing process (8). This is especially true of people that develop scurvy. If the body doesn’t receive enough vitamin C for more than 3 months, tissue repair and wounds take longer to heal. According to the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, regular vitamin C intake can also prevent wound infections (9).
7. Your Joints Swell and Cause Pain
One of the most common signs of vitamin C deficiency is swollen and painful joints. Your joint tissues need collagen the most and when there’s a deficiency, you may develop rheumatoid arthritis. The Arthritis Foundation reports that people with vitamin C deficiency are three times more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis (10).
8. Your Immune System Becomes Weaker
The production of white blood cells is closely tied to how much vitamin C you get daily. Getting enough vitamin C strengthens your immune system, which makes it easier for your body to fight off bacteria, virus, and infections (11).
9. You Are Always In a Bad Mood
Having enough vitamin C improves mood and allows people to better cope with stress, depression, anxiety and fatigue. In one study, 42 teens from a high school had their blood pressure and vitamin C levels recorded before and after the intervention. The results showed that higher vitamin C concentration in the body helped reduce anxiety in the participants by as much as 34% (12).
Eat Your Vitamin C
Natural foods high in vitamin C also come with other nutrients and polyphenols that help further enhance your body’s ability to stay healthy. For example, if you’re taking collagen supplements, it helps to have adequate levels of vitamin C as both nutrients work together to keep your skin young.
The best way to fill up on vitamin C is to get it through the foods you eat, such as citrus fruits, kale, spinach, broccoli, berries, and so on.