Vitamin C is an essential nutrient that must be consumed regularly to prevent deficiency.
While deficiency is relatively rare in developed countries due to the availability of fresh produce and the addition of vitamin C to certain foods and supplements, it still affects roughly 7% of adults in the US.
The most common risk factors for vitamin C deficiency are poor diet, alcoholism, anorexia, severe mental illness, smoking and dialysis.
While symptoms of severe vitamin C deficiency can take months to develop, there are some subtle signs to watch out for.
Here are the 15 most common signs and symptoms of vitamin C deficiency.
1. Rough, Bumpy Skin
Vitamin C plays a key role in collagen production, a protein that is abundant in connective tissues like skin, hair, joints, bones and blood vessels.
When vitamin C levels are low, a skin condition known as keratosis pilaris can develop.
In this condition, bumpy “chicken skin” forms on the back of the upper arms, thighs or buttocks due to a buildup of keratin protein inside the pores.
Keratosis pilaris caused by vitamin C deficiency typically appears after three to five months of inadequate intake and resolves with supplementation.
However, there are many other potential causes of keratosis pilaris, so its presence alone is not enough to diagnose a deficiency.