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Does Your Diet Have Enough Vitamin C?

Last time, we talked about the effects of having too much vitamin C in the body. How about the opposite?

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Last time, we talked about the effects of having too much vitamin C in the body. How about the opposite?

Click Here


Taking Vitamin C Supplements: How Much Is Too Much?

Disease due to a lack of vitamin C is known as Scurvy, and nowadays, it’s an uncommon health condition. Next Thursday (May 2) is International Scurvy Awareness Day, a somewhat weird health holiday, considering the cure for this condition is taking enough vitamin C. But it still happens because people in developed societies can still get scurvy, especially if their diet includes less or no vitamin C at all.

Why does our body need vitamin C?

Ascorbic acid, or vitamin C, is an essential nutrient that helps the metabolic processes of the body, which include:

+ Formation of collagen, whose role is to heal wounds and strengthen the blood vessels, bones, and skin.

+ An anti-oxidizing function, to combat the molecular compounds known as “free radicals” released by the body when it metabolizes oxygen.

+ Absorption of iron. Vitamin C helps the body process this element, which we get from sources like plant-based foods like beans and lentils.

+ Fighting infection, as lymphocytes, or the fighter cells in the immune system, require vitamin C to function properly.

+ Production of other important substances in the body, including brain chemicals or neurotransmitters.

Symptoms of scurvy

Many early symptoms of scurvy can be mild or similar to those of self-limiting illnesses.

+ Malaise, or the general feeling of being unwell

+ Fatigue

+ Loss of appetite

+ Nausea

+ Diarrhea

+ Fever

+ Painful joints and muscles

+ Small ‘pinpoint’ bleeding around hair follicles visible in the skin.

Symptoms of severe scurvy may include:

+ swollen, spongy and purplish gums that are prone to bleeding

+ loose teeth

+ bulging eyes

+ bleeding into the skin

+ scaly, dry and brownish skin

+ very dry hair that curls and breaks off close to the skin

+ slow-healing wounds

+ opening of previously healed scars

+ bleeding into the joints and muscles, which causes areas of swelling over the bones of the arms and legs

+ premature stopping of bone growth (in babies and children).

Diagnosis of scurvy

Some doctors call this condition a “million-dollar disease” because of the tests to find out a disease that’s considered non-existent in developed countries. The tests may include:

+ an examination, including medical history and detailed questions about dietary habits

+ blood tests to check vitamin C and iron levels

+ x-rays of joints including the knee, wrist, and ribs.

How to Treat Scurvy?

The main way to treat scurvy is to increase the daily intake of vitamin C. But before taking supplements, you have to consult first with your doctor as too much of vitamin C may lead to kidney stones.

If you have other nutritional deficiencies, your doctor or dietitian may recommend a treatment program that can include dietary changes and the short-term use of supplements.