A vitamin C deficiency is more likely because the average modern diet has considerably less vitamin C than that of the past. Because of this, it is important for you to be careful of your ascorbic acid intake. The once fairly common disease called scurvy is quite rare now, though early symptoms of scurvy or vitamin C deficiency are often found in formula-fed infants or in teenagers or the elderly who do not eat any fresh fruits and vegetables.
Lower vitamin C levels are also found among smokers and those suffering from inflammatory bowel disease, as well as in alcoholics, psychiatric patients, and patients with fatigue.
Scurvy symptoms occur primarily from the effects of the lack of ascorbic acid on collagen formation, which reduces tissue health. First signs of vitamin C depletion may include poor resistance to infection, very slow healing of wounds, easy bruising and tiny haemorrhages, called petechiae, in the skin, loss of appetite, general weakness, and poor digestion. As deficiency worsens, sore and bleeding gums, loose teeth, mouth ulcers, nosebleeds, anemia, tenderness and swelling of the joints, and shortness of breath can occur.
Reduced growth, especially of the bones, can result during childhood development. The decreased collagen may lead to bone brittleness, making the bones more fragile. Lactation may be compromised in breastfeeding women; and among the elderly, vitamin C deficiency could increase symptoms of senility. Clotting and increased risk of strokes and heart attacks may result from the bleeding that comes from capillary wall fragility.
Many medical problems are found to be associated with low blood levels of vitamin C, including various infections, colds, depression, high blood pressure, allergies, ulcers, arthritis, vascular fragility, and cholesterol gallstones.
Minimal vitamin C supplementation or a diet well supplied with fresh fruits and vegetables will easily help you avoid most of these symptoms and problems.
The RDA requirement for adults is considered to be 60 mg, though we need only about 10–20 mg to prevent scurvy, and one portion of most fruits or vegetables contains more than that minimum. Infants need at least 35 mg; about 50 mg between ages one and fourteen and 60 mg afterwards are the suggested minimums. Pregnancy requires 80 mg, and lactation needs 100 mg to continue successfully. Realistically, between 100–150 mg daily is a minimum dosage for most people, though many nutritionists recommend 500 mg per day to meet basic body needs.
You may be deficient in Vitamin C, however, if you suffer from increased levels of stress, both physical and emotional. Smoking increases your minimum needs for vitamin C. Ascorbic acid requirements increase if you use birth control pills, estrogen for menopause, cortisone, and aspirin.
Both nicotine and estrogen seem to increase copper blood levels, which inactivates vitamin C. Vitamin C (as ascorbic acid) can be taken with iron, which helps the absorption of iron (important in treating anemia), but the iron decreases absorption of the ascorbic acid. Whenever possible, it is best to take vitamin C as it is found in nature, along with the bioflavonoids, rutin, and hesperidin (vitamin P constituents).