Fatigue and Vitamin C Deficiency: The Untold Story
Vitamin C is crucial for anyone dealing with fatigue. Learn to identify the symptoms of vitamin C deficiency and how to supplement this one of a kind vitamin.
Vast majority of people alive today have almost no idea about this vitamin’s crucial role in preventing fatigue.
Almost everyone is aware that low levels of vitamin C can be harmful to their health. Many are also aware that the chief cause of deficiency is due to dietary neglect, and the failure to eat enough vegetables and fruits that contain the vitamin. Few, however, realize that there are people who can eat all the fruits and vegetables they can find and still end up deficient in this crucial nutrient. Why? Because there are medical reasons that sometimes prevent a person from being able to absorb the vitamins they consume. Colon and intestinal issues can block absorption, as can various organ malfunctions.
Obviously, there is far more to this critical vitamin than most people imagine. And, as you’ll soon learn, what you don’t know about vitamin C could end up being incredibly dangerous for your overall health and wellbeing.
What is Vitamin C and How Does it Benefit You?
If there’s one vitamin most people think they understand, it is vitamin C. This vitamin – also known as ascorbic acid – is present in many fruits and vegetables, and well known for its antioxidant properties and immune-enhancing powers. It is also responsible for aiding in the formation of connective tissue such as the skin, bones, and blood vessels. It also happens to be an essential component of health that the body is incapable of manufacturing on its own. As a result, it is critical that the human diet contain adequate sources of this nutrient.
As part of its grand mission in the body, this vitamin regenerates tissue, protects against many ailments like the cold and heart disease, helps to avoid scurvy, reduce bad cholesterol, and combat free radicals that can damage cellular integrity. It also aids in the body’s ability to absorb iron, and can delay the onset of cataracts.
Its effects on fatigue are well-documented. Though it can take several weeks of lowered vitamin C levels to produce symptoms, when they do occur fatigue and weakness are always near the top of the list of complaints. Because vitamin C is so critical to the immune system and the strength and maintenance of the body’s connective tissues, any reduction below the normal levels of this vitamin can result in body weakness, muscle pain, and the type of bodily stress that can increase anxiety and fatigue. In addition, nerve problems and respiratory difficulties often accompany those body aches, leaving you with less oxygen transport capacity, and less energy production at the cellular level.
How Do You Know if You Suffer From Vitamin C Deficiency?
Vitamin C deficiency is marked by severe fatigue, aches and pains, and weakness in the muscles. The gums can bleed, and rashes can break out on the legs. When this goes on for an extended period of time, scurvy can occur. However, scurvy is extremely rare in the developed world and is generally only seen in instances of severe malnutrition.
More commonly, the symptoms presented by patients suffering from vitamin C deficiency include things such as the following:
- A general sense of body weakness, accompanied by low levels of energy
- Otherwise unexplained muscle and joint aches and pains
- Skin spots that are reddish-blue in color, like bruises
- Greater susceptibility to bruising
- Discoloring, bleeding, or swelling of the gums
- An inability to properly fight off infections due to a weakened immune system
- Weakness in the bones
- Dental problems, including tooth loss or increased rates of cavities and gum deterioration
- Slow-healing cuts, scrapes, and other wounds or injuries
- Bloody noses
- Dry skin issues
- Damaged hair follicles
- An unexplained loss of weight
- Shortness of breath, fever, and even convulsions in more advanced cases
If you find that you are suffering from fatigue and several other symptoms on that list, you may be experiencing a deficiency in this crucial vitamin. It is common for many people to simply take vitamin C supplements to counter any suspected deficiency, but that is not always the best option when you haven’t actually been diagnosed as having insufficient levels of the nutrient. If your symptoms lead you to suspect this deficiency, have your doctor test for it to be sure. That way you can develop a treatment plan together.
How to Diagnose Vitamin C Deficiency
Generally, any investigation into possible vitamin C deficiency begins with a questioning process so that the doctor can evaluate the symptoms you report. That is typically followed by a blood test to measure the level of the vitamin in your body and confirm or reject that initial diagnosis. In addition to that, most doctors will also test the levels of other nutrients – like iron – to determine all of the other factors at work in your ailment. Iron is of particular importance since its absorption requires vitamin C. Any deficiency in your vitamin C levels can easily lead to iron deficiency as well, and the anemia that follows in its wake.
Finally, your doctor may also look at bone density using x-rays. This is because vitamin C deficiency can impact your bones, causing them to become thinner over time. If that ends up being the case, then a treatment plan will have to be implemented to handle that problem as well.
Food Sources for Vitamin C
While supplementation is common, the reality is that it is a fairly simple thing to get enough vitamin C from food sources. It is prevalent in everything from citrus fruits, apples, melons, and berries to foods such as broccoli, peppers, dark green leafy plants, potatoes, fortified grain products, and tomatoes.
How to Supplement Vitamin C
Remember, first of all, that supplementation is typically unnecessary if you are consuming adequate portions of fruits, vegetables, and other foods that contain this vitamin. If, however, you suffer from a condition that impairs absorption of the nutrient – or if your doctor has recommended supplementation as a solution for your deficiency, then pay careful attention to the recommended doses. Those recommendations provide for about 90 mg a day for adult men and 75 mg for women. Children need about 40-50 mg each day.
Potential Side Effects and Interactions
Though side effects are only typically reported with extremely high doses of vitamin C, they do occur from time to time. They can include nausea, headaches, and cramps. Some people also suffer from heartburn. Generally, anything in excess of 250 mg ends up being flushed from the body during urination. Seriously high levels of supplementation can result in kidney stone formation, gastritis, and diarrhea.
Vitamin C supplements tend to interact poorly with acetaminophen, nicotine, contraceptives, barbiturates, and antacids. Research also points to vitamin C impeding B12 absorption when taken in abnormally large doses.
Obviously, there is much more to this vitamin than most people assume. Its impact on overall health and wellbeing cannot be overstated, and its important role in ensuring that your body has the stability it needs to function properly is something that cannot be questioned. For fatigue sufferers, all vitamins and minerals are important – but vitamin C is one essential nutrient that deserves even more attention.
You might also be interested in:
- Vitamin C Deficiency Causes, Symptoms & Solutions. http://bembu.com/vitamin-c-deficiency
- 8 Symptoms of Vitamin C Deficiency. http://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/nutrition/vitamins-minerals/8-symptoms-of-vitamin-c-deficiency.html#b
- Vitamin C. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/nutritional-disorders/vitamin-deficiency-dependency-and-toxicity/vitamin-c
- Vitamin C Deficiency. http://patient.info/health/vitamin-c-deficiency-leaflet
- Vitamin C. http://www.medicinenet.com/vitamins_and_calcium_supplements/page7.htm#vitamin_c
- Vitamin C deficiency. http://www.rightdiagnosis.com/v/vitamin_c_deficiency/intro.htm