If you are eating a well-balanced diet, you are probably getting enough vitamin C. However, millions of people still choose to take a vitamin C supplement. Some are deficient in the vitamin, others have a series of risk factors, while others don’t have a diet that includes enough vitamin C.
Vitamin C deficiency can become an issue for a substantial number of people. Those at most risk include:
Smokers and Heavy Drinkers
Studies show that smokers, or those frequently exposed to second-hand smoke, may need 35mg more vitamin C daily than nonsmokers. Alcoholics or heavy drinkers also tend to have a vitamin C deficiency. If you struggle with smoking or drinking, you may need to take a vitamin C supplement as you implement sustainable lifestyle changes.
Individuals who don’t have access to fruits and vegetables, especially during the off-season, may not be receiving the vitamins their bodies need to function at their best.
And, of course, millions of people just don’t like to eat fruits and vegetables. Those who fit in the description of the “steak-and-potatoes” crowd are more likely to be among those that are vitamin C deficient.
Some people have gastrointestinal diseases that prevent vitamin C from being properly absorbed into the body. Studies show that people with cancer also have a greater tendency to be C deficient. In these instances, a vitamin C supplement can ensure that someone is getting the right amount if they can’t absorb it from diet alone. It’s important to consult your physician before adding supplements to your daily routine.
Vitamin C is important during pregnancy, too. The vitamin helps develop the unborn baby’s bones and teeth. It also helps the mother by aiding in collagen production, boosting immunity, and absorbing iron.
Signs You Need More Vitamin C
The most famous disease associated with a lack of vitamin C is scurvy, famous for afflicting the sailors of the olden days. Spending months at sea with no access to fruits or vegetables left them depleted of vitamin C. Symptoms of scurvy are bleeding gums, loose teeth, peeling skin, intense fatigue, weakness, and muscle deterioration. Although it is rare these days, the disease still occurs in those not getting enough vitamin C.
However, more likely signs of low vitamin C among people today are:
- Rough, bumpy skin
- Bright red hair follicles
- Spoon-shaped fingernails with red lines
- Easy bruising
- Wounds that heal slowly
- Painful and/or swollen joints
- Bleeding gums, tooth loss
- Poor immunity to colds and cases of flu
- Depression or low mood
- Unexplained weight gain
- Inflammation and low oxidation
The solution to vitamin C is obviously to get more of it. The best way to do that is through diet and not to rely solely on vitamin C supplements. While taking a daily supplement is generally safe, be careful not to overdo it. You can talk to your doctor for more information regarding the amounts of supplements you should be taking. They can also help you determine the level of your deficiency.
Taking too much vitamin C can cause:
- Nausea and diarrhea
- Stomach cramps
- Skin flushing
Again, the best approach is to eat a well-balanced diet that includes at least a few servings of fruits and vegetables every day. However, this may not be adequate for some individuals, including smokers, those with autoimmune disorders, those who are pregnant, and others. There are a variety of signs you should consider a vitamin C supplement, including skin problems, bleeding, and feeling depressed. A doctor can help find the root of the problem and recommend the amount of vitamin C you should take.