Diseases

Vitamin C deficiency

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One Vitamin C deficiency is not known in healthy people who eat well. Such a deficit exists practically only in some developing countries. From the 16th to the 19th century, vitamin C deficiency was especially common among sailors - in the form of the disease scurvy. Find out more about the causes and consequences of vitamin C deficiency here.

Product Overview Vitamin C deficiency
  • Vitamin C deficiency: causes
  • Vitamin C deficiency: symptoms
  • Vitamin C deficiency: effects in pregnancy

Vitamin C deficiency: causes

Vitamin C deficiency is very rare in Germany and other industrialized countries. The daily allowance of 95 milligrams for women and 110 milligrams for men recommended by the German Society of Nutrition (DGE) can be easily achieved with a balanced, versatile diet. Already two kiwi or the juice of two oranges cover the daily requirement.

Deficiency or malnutrition (such as no fresh fruits and vegetables), however, causes a lack of vitamin C. However, other factors such as smoking, pregnancy and lactation also have an impact on vitamin C status. In these cases, the vitamin C requirement is increased. Taking certain medications may also increase the vitamin C requirement. This applies, for example, in the contraceptive pill, preparations with the painkiller acetylsalicylic acid (ASA) and in the so-called sulfonamides (used as antibiotics or diabetes medicines).

Even diabetics and the elderly are among those people who should pay particular attention to a sufficient vitamin C intake, so as not to risk a shortage.

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Vitamin C deficiency: symptoms

Severe vitamin C deficiency results in "mariner's disease" scurvy. The name comes from the fact that sailors used to suffer from it: on voyages lasting weeks, there was hardly any chance of eating fresh fruits and vegetables - the result was a serious vitamin C deficiency.

Scurvy initially manifests itself in relatively nonspecific symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, muscle aches and immunodeficiency. Typical symptoms of advanced vitamin C deficiency are:

  • bleeding
  • inflamed and bleeding gums (often tooth loosening and tooth loss)
  • delayed wound healing
  • Water retention in the tissue (edema)
  • joint pain
  • decreased ability to form collagen

The latter can easily lead to bleeding in the skin, mucous membranes, internal organs and muscles (especially thigh muscles). In very severe cases of scurvy, bleeding can occur in the conjunctiva and in the retina of the eye as well as in the brain. In addition, the disease can cause bone and joint changes.

Bleeding caused by a vitamin C deficiency differs from other causes of bleeding by the following characteristics:

  • simultaneously both large and punctate bleeding
  • punctate bleeding on the hair roots

These symptoms are a very clear indication of a severe vitamin C deficiency. The suspicion is confirmed by a determination of the vitamin C status (blood test).

If scurvy occurs in infants, it is called the Moeller-Barlow disease. Here, in addition to the other symptoms, there are also disorders of bone formation and growth.

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