If you love citrus fruits and can’t resist eating them, then chances are you are not deficient in Vitamin C. But if you are suffering from bleeding gums, or skin problems, then you may be lacking in this crucial vitamin.
Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin that is required in protein metabolism, plays a role in wound healing, and regenerates antioxidants within the body, reduces risk of chronic diseases and can help battle high blood pressure. Vitamin C (along with vitamin A) also helps maintain eye health.
Best sources of Vitamin C
Some of the best sources of Vitamin C are citrus fruits as well as amla, guava, oranges, raw mango, tamarind, black currant, strawberries, citrus fruits, and fruit juices. Vegetables like red bell pepper, broccoli, kale, amaranth leaves, and mint leaves are also good sources of Vitamin C.
“Few people know that bell peppers (capsicum) have more than 2.5 times vitamin C than the same quantity of orange. Fresh amla juice has 20 times more vitamin C than the same quantity of orange juice. If sour juices and fruits do not appeal to your palate, go for pumpkin seeds and flax seeds which are amazing functional foods with decent amounts of vitamin C,” says Luke Coutinho, holistic nutritionist and founder of PureNutrition.me.
And Vitamin C is not just good for the skin or organs. It can also impact your weight loss efforts. “Vitamin C catalyses fat molecules to generate energy. Too little of Vitamin C can increase fat reserves and waist circumference. This is understandable as Vitamin C helps synthesise carnitine, which carries fat molecules for fat oxidation and energy generation,” says Coutinho.
Sisodia recommends an intake of 40mg to 90mg daily for optimum benefits. “Being water-soluble, it is unlikely to be harmful for the body,” says Ushakiran Sisodia, Head-Dietician, Nanavati Super Speciality Hospital.
Symptoms of Vitamin C deficiency
Interestingly, a lack of Vitamin C can be reflected from common symptoms like weakness, anaemia, and skin problems. “Vitamin C is needed for making collagen, an important component in connective tissues. A lack of this vitamin decreases immune function, reduces absorption of iron, affects metabolism of cholesterol and other body functions,” says Sisodia.
One of the lesser-known symptoms, which is often overlooked, is bleeding gums. And it’s best not to ignore it. “Scurvy is a disease caused by a deficiency in vitamin C and is characterised by swollen, bleeding gums. It can be fatal if left untreated,” says Sisodia.
Coutinho says that although a lack of Vitamin C may not immediately lead to bleeding gums, a prolonged one can cause conditions like gingivitis, which is characterised by bleeding gums.
Other symptoms are frequent nose bleeds, slow healing of wounds or dark pigmentation after a minor wound, pain in joints, splitting hairs, and brittle nails. “Nose bleeds are due to tiny capillaries in the nose that become more fragile due to lack of collagen and vitamin C, while dry hair is linked with lack of absorption of iron which is again catalysed by vitamin C,” says Coutinho.
Even though numerous supplements are available in the market, Sisodia says it’s best to stick to natural sources of the vitamin. But during illness, you need to take vitamin C supplements as prescribed by the doctor, she says.
Coutinho says supplements with natural sources of Vitamin C are good options and since the body does not synthesize or store the vitamin, it is important to include a sufficient daily inflow in the body through such supplements.