Helping ourselves through the winter months (Part 2)

Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin. This means that it is not actually stored within our bodies, so we must consume it daily.  This important vitamin plays a major role in:

  • Helping to protect cells and keep them healthy
  • Producing collagen, therefore maintaining healthy skin, blood vessels, bones and cartilage
  • Supporting wound healing
  • Helping the body to absorb iron
  • Boosting the immune system
  • Supporting the cardiovascular system
  • Reducing inflammation due to its antioxidant properties, reducing the risk of certain conditions, including cancer

What causes deficiency?

Poor diet, alcoholism, eating disorders, smoking and dialysis can all contribute to vitamin C deficiency.

Symptoms of deficiency

Symptoms of vitamin C deficiency are many and varied. Here are just some signs and symptoms to look out for, although this is by no means an exhaustive list:

  • Rough, bumpy skin – due to impact on collagen production
  • Corkscrew shaped body hair – caused by defects in protein of the hair as it grows
  • Bright red hair follicles – follicles contain tiny blood vessels that can rupture resulting in the the appearance of bright red spots
  • Spoon shaped finger nails with red spots or lines – again caused by impact of deficiency on small blood vessels
  • Dry, damaged skin – due to lack of this vitamin’s anti-oxident properties and also its role in collagen production
  • Bruising easily – again due to its role in producing collagen, and its effect on blood vessels
  • Slow wound healing – once again caused by slow rate of collagen production, and subsequent impact on formation of new tissue
  • Painful, swollen joints – As joints contain a lot of collagen-rich connective tissue, they can also be affected by deficiency
  • Bone weakness/loss – Vitamin C has been shown to play a role in bone health. Deficiency can cause weak or brittle bones
  • Bleeding gums and tooth loss – Inadequate vitamin c causes gum tissue to become inflamed and bleeding to occur. This can ultimately result in tooth loss.
  • Poor immunity – studies have shown this vitamin accumulates in different immune cells to help them combat infection
  • Without adequate vitamin C, gum tissues become weakened and inflamed

Sources of Vitamin C

Vitamin C can be obtained through a healthy balanced diet. Since our bodies cannot store this vitamin, we must consume it daily. Fresh fruit and vegetables are an excellent source of this nutrient, with cherries, blackcurrants, sweet red peppers, kiwi fruit, lemons, oranges, strawberries and broccoli being particularly good sources. It must be remembered that vitamin C rapidly breaks down when exposed to heat, so raw fruit and vegetables are recommended where possible.

A further discovery has been made in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. Numerous studies being reported globally are demonstrating that vitamin C levels are typically low in critically ill hospitalised patients with both respiratory infections, pneumonia, sepsis and C-19. You can read more here.

The Swiss Society of Nutrition recommends a supplement of 200mg of vitamin C for everyone, “to fill the nutrient gap for the general population and especially for the adults aged 65 and older. This supplement is targeted to strengthen the immune system.”

From a personal perspective, as I have been diagnosed with an autoimmune condition and being susceptible to iron deficiency anaemia, I have been taking a vitamin C supplement for some time. I take Nu U Nutrition’s 1000mg Vitamin C tablets. Like many vitamin C supplements of this dosage, they are a little on the large side, but taking these causes me no problems.

Please remember, it’s important that we do not not let supplementation replace a healthy lifestyle and diet but instead use it to assist in maintaining healthy levels of this important vitamin. If you do have any concerns regarding any aspect of your health, please seek medical advice from your health care professional.

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Published by Sara C

It's hugely important to raise more awareness of brain tumours and the implications they can have on patients' lives. I aim to help to create wider understanding of the effects brain surgery and a diagnosis can have on an individual and their families on a emotive level through my own experience.

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