Functions and Importance of Vitamin C
Vitamin C is also known as ascorbic acid. Although some mammals can produce vitamin C, humans are incapable of producing this vitamin, so they have to obtain it through diet. Vitamin C is necessary for: absorbing iron from eaten food, facilitation of some proteins in the body, healing wounds, etc. This nutrient also possesses some antioxidant properties, and because of that it is essential in preventing damage done by free radicals. Deficiency of vitamin C can cause inhibition of all of these processes.
Sources of Vitamin C
Many foods contain vitamin C. In most cases those are some vegetables and fruit, but there are some sorts of fish that contain this nutrient. Plants containing vitamin C are: citrus fruit, kiwi, green leafy vegetables, sweet potato, green pepper, cabbage and broccoli.
Symptoms of Vitamin C Deficiency in Adults and Children
Deficiency of this vitamin can even cause disease called scurvy. Symptoms of scurvy are: pain in the joints, easily getting bruises and bleeding, hair loss, swelling body and problem with the nails and skin. These symptoms are a consequence of weakening blood vessels in the body and insufficient production of collagen. Still, this disease affects people who suffer from deficiency of vitamin C for 2 or 3 months. This disease is also referred as the “sailor's disease” since it was prevalent among sailors in the days of sailing ships because they did not get to eat fresh produce (containing vitamin C) for long periods of time.
Symptoms of a mild deficiency of vitamin C are: lassitude, anorexia, weakness of the immune system, fatigue, etc. This deficiency also triggers a process of premature aging.
Vitamin C deficiency symptoms in children are similar to those mentioned above, apart from the fact that their bone growth may be damaged. This problem is more common among infants and growing children, since this vitamin promotes bone and muscle growth.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Vitamin C Deficiency
Common diagnosis toll for vitamin C deficiency is blood tests and for children also X rays. X rays enable the specialist to see if there are some problems with the bone growth and structure caused by deficiency of this nutrient.
Treatment for this deficiency is pretty simple: patient is advised to take more veggies and fruit rich in vitamin C, and if needed, supplements. Consuming vitamin C supplements are especially important in the case of scurvy.