Vitamin C and Scurvy- General Info
Scurvy is a medical condition caused by the prolonged deficiency of vitamin C. This is a water soluble vitamin and it simply cannot be produced by human body. Therefore, the only option for maintaining proper levels of vitamin C is by consuming foods rich in it. Vitamin C can be found in many fresh fruit and vegetables. Cooking and frying leads to loss of this precious substance and this is why vitamin C can be properly obtained only from fresh fruit and vegetables. The highest amount of vitamin C is found in citrus fruit such as lemon, oranges, lime etc. There are even vitamin supplements which provide with adequate daily doses of vitamin C. In some illnesses there is increased demand for this vitamin and in this case vitamin supplements are an excellent option for fulfilling the desirable needs.
Vitamin C is essential for many processes in the body and it participates in production of collagen and absorption of iron. Prolonged deficiency causes specific symptoms and signs and is rarely seen nowadays. It used to affect sailors who were traveling all around the word and had no proper supply of fresh food rich in vitamin C. Today scurvy may affect pregnant women, alcoholics, people suffering from anorexia, inflammatory illnesses and burns. Even ignorant people who tend to boil fruit and vegetable rich in vitamin C may eventually develop scurvy.
Symptoms of Scurvy
All the symptoms of scurvy may be classified into early and later symptoms.
Early symptoms of scurvy include fatigue and lethargy, increased irritability and the overall feeling of being unwell. Furthermore, there is nausea, loss of appetite and weight loss. Patients complain about muscle and joint pain and some of them develop fever. Vitamin C deficiency typically features with increased susceptibility to bleeding and this is why patients' skin is vulnerable to bruising, their gums are swollen and bleed and they may even lose their teeth. There are also skin changes in a form of dry skin and hair, and blue/black spots on thighs and back. Due to insufficient production of collagen the healing of wounds is prolonged and inappropriate absorption of iron leads to anemia.
If left neglected scurvy may progress and lead to the onset of later symptoms and signs of vitamin C deficiency. They include seizures and convulsions, jaundice, serious damage to the nervous system and arthritis. There is noticeable reduction in production of urine and fluid retention around the body which leads to edema.