What causes vitamin C deficiency?

Vitamin C deficiency, also known as scurvy, can occur for several reasons. Here are some common causes of vitamin C deficiency:

  1. Inadequate Dietary Intake: A diet that lacks foods rich in vitamin C can lead to deficiency. This is particularly common in regions with limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables, which are primary sources of vitamin C.
  2. Limited Access to Fresh Fruits and Vegetables: Fresh fruits and vegetables, especially citrus fruits (e.g., oranges, lemons), are rich in vitamin C. In regions with limited access to these foods, vitamin C deficiency may be more common.
  3. Prolonged Storage and Cooking: Vitamin C is sensitive to heat, light, and air. Overcooking, prolonged storage, or improperly handling fruits and vegetables can lead to a significant loss of vitamin C content.
  4. Alcoholism: Excessive alcohol consumption can reduce the absorption and utilization of vitamin C.
  5. Smoking: Smoking can deplete vitamin C levels in the body, as smokers tend to have higher vitamin C requirements. Smoking also leads to oxidative stress, which can increase the body’s need for vitamin C.
  6. Malabsorption Disorders: Certain medical conditions and digestive disorders, such as celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, and gastritis, can interfere with the absorption of vitamin C from the diet.
  7. Limited Access to Fresh Foods During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: Pregnant and breastfeeding women may experience vitamin C deficiency if they have limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables.
  8. Certain Medications: Some medications, such as those used for certain chronic illnesses, can deplete vitamin C levels or interfere with its absorption.
  9. Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions or chronic illnesses that increase the body’s demand for vitamin C may lead to deficiency. These conditions may include cancer, diabetes, and kidney disease.
  10. Homelessness and Malnutrition: Individuals who are homeless or experiencing malnutrition are at a higher risk of vitamin C deficiency due to limited access to fresh and nutrient-rich foods.

Scurvy is a classic example of vitamin C deficiency and can result in symptoms such as fatigue, anemia, gum disease, and skin problems. To prevent vitamin C deficiency, it’s important to maintain a balanced diet that includes a variety of foods rich in vitamin C and to minimize factors that can deplete vitamin C levels.

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