Vitamin C is often known as an immunity booster, but the nutrient plays a role in everything from your hair health to bone strength. Being vitamin C deficient can impact your joints, nails, iron levels, mood, skin, and much more. Read on to see what signs may be linked to not having enough vitamin C.
Bent Or Coiled Hair
Since vitamin C helps with collagen production, not getting enough can result in protein structure defects. This can cause hair to become bent or coiled, which is referred to as corkscrew-shaped hair.
Hair can be affected anywhere on the body, not just your head. This damaged hair is also more likely to break off or fall out, which can make it difficult to tell. It can also result in dry hair and split ends.
Bleeding Or Swollen Gums
Since vitamin C is linked to collagen production, not getting enough can result in sensitive gums that become swollen. The nutrient also promotes healing, so a deficiency can lead to them bleeding for a longer period of time.
Without vitamin C, gums can become weakened, inflamed, and start to turn purple. A 2005 study even linked scurvy to teeth falling out due to weak dentin and unhealthy gums! Tooth loss only happens in extreme cases, so early detection is imperative.
Bruises are caused by blood vessels breaking, causing discoloration from blood leakage beneath the skin's surface. Those who bruise easily may benefit from more vitamin C since it helps build collagen, which strengthens blood vessel walls.
Thus, not getting enough vitamin C may lead to poor collagen production. The result is weaker blood vessels that are more vulnerable to rupturing and causing bruising. Those associated with a deficiency often look like small, purple dots that appear in various places on the body.
You Have Keratosis Pilaris
Keratosis pilaris is an unharmful skin condition where small bumps appear on the skin, typically at the upper arms and the thighs. It's caused by a build-up of keratin that clogs the pores.
Researchers have found a link between the condition and vitamin C deficiency. Typically, the condition clears up a few months after taking supplements. However, there are other factors that can play into keratosis pilaris, so the underlying reason could have to do with something other than vitamin C.
Vitamin C helps produce collagen, which strengthens blood vessels. Nosebleeds occur when blood vessels in the nose burst. That's why vitamin C may help prevent them, while deficiency may lead to more frequent nosebleeds.
Without vitamin C, collagen production can take a dip and result in weaker nose blood vessels. This would make someone more likely to have a nosebleed as they are not getting the vital nutrient that can help prevent such blood vessels from rupturing.
Red Hair Follicles
A study by the University of Washington found that there is a correlation between red hair follicles and scurvy. The reason why is because hair follicles contain blood vessels, which benefit from higher collagen production.
Without vitamin C, collagen production suffers, and as a result, blood vessels aren't as strong. When the blood vessels break, they leave tiny red dots near the follicle, a condition known as perifollicular hemorrhage. A 2008 study discovered that it only takes about two weeks of supplements for this symptom to subside.
Having Low Levels Of Iron
Vitamin C deficiency often goes hand in hand with low levels of iron, which can then me linked to anemia. Symptoms of anemia include fatigue, headaches, paleness, and more.
There are two types of iron: heme and nonheme. Nonheme iron comes from plants and is generally more difficult to absorb than heme iron, which is from animals. Vitamin C helps the body absorb nonheme iron, making it especially vital for those who are vegan or vegetarian.
Spoon-Shaped Nails Spotted With Red
One symptom of both iron deficiency anemia and vitamin C deficiency is spoon-shaped nails. This kind of nail will have a concave appearance and typically is extra brittle, making them more susceptible to breaking.
When spoon-shaped nails are due to vitamin C deficiency, they may also be dotted with red or have red vertical lines. These are caused by blood vessel ruptures that result from weaker collagen due to the body not having enough vitamin C.
Joint Pain And Swelling
Multiple studies have found a link between scurvy and joint pain and swelling. One 2010 study found that the effect was so severe that it prevented a patient from being able to walk!
The reason for such an effect is due to the connective tissue in the joints, which contain collagen. When vitamin C isn't there to support collagen absorption, joints can become painful and even start to bleed. Fortunately, researchers have seen patients improve in as little as a week with supplements.
Dry Or Damaged Skin
Vitamin C is highly prevalent in the epidermis, or the outer layer of skin, giving it a healthful, glowing look. With vitamin C deficiency, skin can become dry and more easily damaged.
A 2017 study found that vitamin C deficiency was related to skin frailty. Research has also found a link between vitamin C intake and skin being soft and supple. Since vitamin C is an antioxidant, it can also help prevent skin damage caused by pollutants.
Wounds Taking Long To Heal
A 2007 study found that those with leg-ulcers that wouldn't heal were more likely to be vitamin C deficient compared to the control group. Research has also shown that low levels of vitamin C may contribute to old wounds reopening.
That's because vitamin C supports the body's immune response to such wounds, which helps them heal and lowers the risk of infection. Additionally, vitamin C supports collagen production, which strengthens the scar tissue that closes a wound.
Consistent Infections Or Sickness
Vitamin C plays a fundamental role in immune response by helping to produce white blood cells that fight off infection. When someone is vitamin C deficient, they are more likely to contract infections and become sick from bacteria or viruses.
Additionally, vitamin C helps protect immune cells since it is an antioxidant. This gives them a better chance of efficiently combatting the pathogens associated with infections and illnesses, resulting in a quicker and more complete recovery.
Experts have found that vitamin C plays an important role in the formation of strong, healthy bones. This is especially true for children as they are developing and growing. Likewise, older individuals may be at increased risk for developing osteoporosis if they are vitamin C deficient.
Those with low levels of vitamin C may also experience more frequent bone fractures and a greater amount of bone loss. Symptoms of bone weakness may include back pain, loss of height, and poor posture.
While many things can cause fatigue, it may be worth upping your vitamin C as a first response to excessive tiredness. A study by the National Institutes of Health found that low levels of vitamin C often manifest as sleepiness early on.
Furthermore, this symptom may occur before other, more serious symptoms point to a full-blown case of vitamin C deficiency. That's why tiredness related to lack of vitamin C can dissipate in as little as a day!
A 2005 study found that vitamin C deficiency was not only related to weight gain but specifically to higher amounts of belly fat. This may have something to do with the nutrient's relationship with energy production.
A lack of vitamin C can be related to your metabolism slowing down, and has therefore been linked to obesity. The nutrient helps regulate the release of fat, so not getting enough can be a contributing factor to weight gain.
Since vitamin C is an antioxidant, it plays a major role in bringing down inflammation. Experts have found that inflammation can put individuals at a higher risk of certain illnesses, including diabetes and heart disease.
This may be why one 2011 study found that those with low levels of vitamin C were 40% more likely to develop heart disease in the next 15 years. On the contrary, those with the highest levels of vitamin C were less likely to experience heart disease in the coming years.
One of the earliest signs of being low in vitamin C is a decreased mood, which also means that the symptom can reverse very quickly after increasing your intake.
A study published by the Cambridge University Press found that eating more foods high in vitamin C improved the mood of young adult males. That's because the nutrient plays a role in mood stabilization. It may also be linked to vitamin C's positive impact on energy, as fatigue can cause crankiness.
A study conducted on more than 4,000 women aged 40 to 74 found that having more vitamin C was related to a lower chance of developing wrinkles. That's because vitamin C aids with collagen production.
Collagen is what keeps skin looking youthful by making it more smooth and supple, and therefore less likely to become wrinkled. As an antioxidant, vitamin C can also help to protect the skin from damaging free radicals that may cause the skin to lose its firmness.
Easily Getting A Sunburn
Vitamin C helps protect the skin from UV rays that may cause damage, including sunburns. The nutrient is prevalent in the skin but tends to dwindle in the presence of UV rays.
That's why getting enough vitamin C is important to not just defend the skin, but also to ensure that there are adequate levels in the skin after being under UV rays. Having less light-induced damage can also keep the skin looking healthy and youthful.
As an antioxidant, vitamin C can also help to prevent oxidative stress, a condition that can increase the likelihood of developing chronic illnesses. That's because oxidative stress is an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants.
Symptoms of oxidative stress can include fatigue, memory loss, headaches, infections, wrinkles, joint pain, and worsened eyesight. Since many of these symptoms overlap with the items on this list, vitamin C may help to combat such challenges in multiple ways.