Vitamin C deficiency
First symptoms of early vitamin C deficiency are very general and could also indicate other diseases. They include fatigue, lassitude, and loss of appetite, drowsiness and insomnia, feeling run-down, irritability, low resistance to infections.
A deficiency of leads to a condition called scurvy, characterized by weakness anemia, bruising, bleeding gums, and loose teeth.
These are usually the earliest signs of clinical deficiency.
Hemorrhages under the skin cause extreme tenderness of extremities and pain during movement.
Nowadays this is rare in developed countries and can be prevented by a daily intake of about 10-15 mg of vitamin C. However, for optimal physiological functioning much
higher amounts are required. Nevertheless, in elderly people in homes and hospitals vitamin C deficiency symptoms are not rare; sometimes even signs of scurvy can be observed.
Scurvy is a nutritional disease caused by deficiency of vitamin C. Common symptoms include pinpoint bleeding around hair follicles, along the gums, and under the nails, as seen in this photograph. This disease rarely occurs in the United States.
The development of vitamin C deficiency can be caused by:
• Inadequate storage and preparation of food
• Gastrointestinal disturbances
• Stress and exercise
• Pregnancy and lactation
Vitamin C functions
The most prominent role of vitamin C is its immune-stimulating effect, e.g., important for defence against infections such as common colds. It also acts as an inhibitor of histamine, a compound that is released during allergic reactions. As a powerful antioxidant it can neutralize harmful free radicals and it aids in neutralizing pollutants and toxins. Thus it is able to prevent the formation of potentially carcinogenic nitrosamines in the stomach (due to consumption of nitrite-containing foods, such as smoked meat).
Importantly, vitamin C is also able to regenerate other antioxidants such as vitamin E....