10 signs you're not getting enough vitamin C

Courtney Leiva
  • Vitamin C plays a big role in maintaining your health
  • It can heavily affect your teeth, hair, and bones if you're not having enough
  • INSIDER asked some health experts how to tell when you're lacking in the vitamin

Vitamin C plays a big role in supporting healthy immune function. It is necessary for bone structure, skin integrity, and iron absorption, according to a study published by the Harvard Medical School.

If you are wondering how much vitamin C you should actually get, registered dietitian Summer Yule, MS, RDN, suggested that the recommended daily amount for adults is 90 milligrams for men and 75 milligrams for women. Although the vitamin is available through supplementation, Yule told INSIDER that vitamin C is also obtainable through fruits and vegetables, and restricting these items can actually put a person at risk of deficiencies.

Most people get enough vitamin C through a balanced diet. But to make sure you are getting enough vitamin C in your diet, INSIDER spoke to some dietitians and physicians about what the warning signs are if you're not actually getting enough.

You can experience hair breakage

"Hair breakage can be a sign of vitamin C deficiency," suggested registered dietitian nutritionist Cassie Berger, MS, RDN.

The vitamin is necessary for collagen production, which provides the structure needed for strong hair, nails, and skin.

Your skin can become dry

"A great way to protect your skin from over-drying during the winter is to get enough vitamin C," explained Berger. Vitamin C aids in the production of sebum, she told INSIDER, which provides a protective oil layer for our skin.

You can experience rough skin with tiny bumps

"A vitamin C deficiency may cause rough skin with tiny bumps," suggested registered dietitian nutritionist Rachel Fine, MS, RD, CSSD, CDN. "This is condition is known as keratosis pilaris and is sometimes called chicken skin," she said.

Your gums can become painful and may bleed

"Vitamin C is necessary for healthy gums," said registered dietitian Julie Upton, MS, RD. This vitamin is essential for the production of collagen, which is necessary for many organs and tissues, she told INSIDER.

You can bruise more easily

"Vitamin C is involved with collagen production, a component of blood vessels," said board-certified emergency medicine physician Chirag Shah, MD. In the absence of adequate collagen synthesis due to a vitamin C deficiency, he explained that blood vessel integrity can suffer and sometimes result in increased and easy bruising.

Your wounds won't heal poorly

"Through its impact is on collagen production, vitamin C deficiencies can also impact wound healing," explained Shah. Vitamin C is important in enabling the healing process, he suggested, and a low vitamin C level will often show itself quickly through a poorly healing wound.

Vitamin C deficiency can lead to inflammation

"Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that helps our body deal with inflammation," said registered dietitian Ashley Weaver, MS, RD, CSSD. Inflammation can cause pain in joints, she suggested.

Vitamin C deficiency can lead to iron deficiency anemia

"Iron deficiency anemia can develop since low vitamin C intake decreases the absorption of non-heme sources of iron (such as from fortified cereals)," Yule said.

You can experience fatigue and irritability

"Lack of vitamin C will give you a case of fatigue and can even cause an irritable mood," said registered dietitian Jenn Fillenworth, MS, RD. This is one of the earliest signs your vitamin C may be getting low, she suggested.

Scurvy is the most severe form of vitamin C deficiency

"Scurvy is the most severe form of vitamin C deficiency," Fillenworth told INSIDER. Though it is rare, symptoms of scurvy develop after several months of being vitamin C deficient and include bruising, bleeding gums, fatigue, rash, muscle weakness, and coiled hair, she said.

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