Scurvy, a disease stemming from a deficiency of vitamin C, holds a storied history of affliction, particularly among sailors during the era of maritime exploration. Its resurgence in modern times serves as a reminder of the critical role that proper nutrition plays in maintaining overall health. This condition, characterized by a myriad of debilitating symptoms, underscores the essentiality of vitamin C in the human diet. From its historical significance to contemporary understanding and management, exploring scurvy illuminates the intricate interplay between diet, health, and the body’s physiological processes. This introduction sets the stage for a comprehensive exploration of scurvy, encompassing its etiology, clinical manifestations, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention strategies.

Role of Vitamin C:

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, plays a crucial role in maintaining various physiological functions within the human body. One of its primary functions is its involvement in the synthesis of collagen, a structural protein found in connective tissues, skin, bones, and blood vessels. Collagen is essential for maintaining the integrity and strength of these tissues, contributing to wound healing, skin elasticity, and overall structural support.

Furthermore, vitamin C acts as a powerful antioxidant, helping to protect cells from damage caused by harmful molecules known as free radicals. By neutralizing these free radicals, vitamin C helps reduce oxidative stress and inflammation, thereby supporting overall immune function and reducing the risk of chronic diseases.

Additionally, vitamin C plays a critical role in the absorption of iron from plant-based sources, enhancing the body’s ability to utilize this essential mineral for the production of red blood cells and oxygen transport.

Moreover, vitamin C is involved in the synthesis of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and norepinephrine, which are important for mood regulation, cognition, and stress response.

Overall, the multifaceted role of vitamin C underscores its importance for overall health and well-being, highlighting the necessity of adequate intake through dietary sources or supplementation to prevent deficiency-related health issues such as scurvy.

Symptoms of Vitamin C Deficiency:

Vitamin C deficiency, also known as ascorbic acid deficiency, can lead to a range of symptoms that reflect its crucial role in various physiological processes. Some common signs of vitamin C deficiency include:

  • Fatigue and weakness: Vitamin C deficiency can contribute to feelings of fatigue and weakness, making it challenging to engage in daily activities.
  • Swollen and bleeding gums: Gum inflammation (gingivitis) is a classic symptom of vitamin C deficiency, characterized by swollen, tender gums that may bleed easily, particularly during brushing or eating.
  • Dry, scaly skin: Inadequate vitamin C intake can result in skin changes such as dryness, roughness, and scaling, giving the skin a parched appearance.
  • Slow wound healing: Vitamin C is essential for collagen synthesis, which is crucial for wound healing. Deficiency in vitamin C can lead to delayed wound healing and increased susceptibility to infections.
  • Easy bruising: Weakness in blood vessel walls due to insufficient collagen production can cause individuals with vitamin C deficiency to bruise easily, even from minor injuries or pressure.
  • Joint pain: Vitamin C deficiency may contribute to joint pain and stiffness, making movements uncomfortable and limiting mobility.
  • Anemia: In severe cases of vitamin C deficiency, anaemia may occur, moderate or mild degree .
  • Depression: Some studies suggest a link between vitamin C deficiency and mood disturbances, including depression and irritability. However, more research is needed to fully understand this association.
  • Decreased immune function: Vitamin C plays a crucial role in supporting the immune system, and deficiency may lead to increased susceptibility to infections and illnesses.
  • Scurvy: In advanced stages of vitamin C deficiency, untreated individuals may develop scurvy, a severe condition characterized by widespread symptoms such as bleeding gums, joint pain, fatigue, and skin abnormalities.
  • Heart Attack: Cardiac failure may occur suddenly, that does not mean that a vitamin C deficiency will necessarily lead to a heart attack.
  • Haemorrhage: Sometimes haemorrhage may occur in retrobulbar and subarachnoid spaces or in brain which may be fatal.
  • Hair Follocle : Heaping up of keratin-like materials around the hair follicle occurs from which hair stands like corkscrew.

Incorporating a variety of these vitamin C-rich foods into your daily diet can help ensure an adequate intake of this essential nutrient, supporting overall health and well-being.


Diagnosis of scurvy is primarily based on clinical symptoms and history, particularly if there’s a known lack of dietary vitamin C intake. Blood tests can also confirm low levels of vitamin C in the body.

Home Remedies to Increase Vitamin C:

  • Include Vitamin C-Rich Foods in Your Diet: Incorporate a variety of fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C into your meals. Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, and grapefruits, as well as kiwi, strawberries, bell peppers, broccoli, and spinach, are excellent sources.
  • Eat Raw Fruits and Vegetables: Consuming fruits and vegetables raw preserves their vitamin C content better than cooking. Enjoy salads, fruit salads, and fresh vegetable snacks to maximize your intake.
  • Drink Freshly Squeezed Juices: Make your own vitamin C-rich juices at home using fresh fruits like oranges, lemons, and berries. Avoid store-bought juices with added sugars and preservatives.
  • Steam or Microwave Vegetables: If you prefer cooked vegetables, opt for steaming or microwaving rather than boiling, as these methods help retain more of the vitamin C content.
  • Limit Cooking Time: When cooking vitamin C-rich foods, minimize cooking time and avoid high heat, as prolonged exposure to heat can degrade vitamin C. Stir-frying or lightly sautéing vegetables can help preserve their nutritional value.
  • Store Foods Properly: Store fruits and vegetables properly to prevent vitamin C degradation. Keep them refrigerated and consume them within a few days of purchase to ensure freshness and optimal nutrient content.
  • Consider Frozen Fruits and Vegetables: Frozen fruits and vegetables can be a convenient alternative to fresh produce and often retain their vitamin C content well due to the freezing process.
  • Herbal Teas: Some herbal teas, such as rosehip tea, contain significant amounts of vitamin C. Enjoying a cup of herbal tea can be a soothing way to increase your intake.
  • Sprinkle Fresh Herbs: Fresh herbs like parsley, cilantro, and basil are not only flavorful but also contain vitamin C. Add them to salads, soups, or cooked dishes as a garnish to boost your intake.
  • Supplements: If dietary sources are insufficient, consider taking vitamin C supplements under the guidance of a healthcare professional. Supplements can help ensure you meet your daily vitamin C requirements, but it’s essential not to exceed recommended dosages.

Normal requirements of Vitamin C is 60mg to 70mg daily. Now-a-days Vitamin C is also used as an antioxidant.


Preventing scurvy involves consuming an adequate amount of vitamin C regularly through a balanced diet that includes fruits and vegetables. For those at risk, such as individuals with limited access to fresh produce or certain medical conditions, vitamin C supplements may be recommended under medical supervision.

Overall, while scurvy is now relatively rare in developed countries due to improved nutrition, it remains a concern in certain populations and serves as a reminder of the importance of maintaining a balanced diet rich in essential nutrients like vitamin C.

Frequently Asked Question And Their Concise Answer About Vitamin C

What skin disease is caused by vitamin C deficiency?

Vitamin C deficiency can lead to a condition known as scurvy. Scurvy is characterized by symptoms such as swollen and bleeding gums, joint pain, fatigue, easy bruising, slow wound healing, dry and scaly skin, and eventually anemia.

Why is low vitamin C bad?

Low vitamin C levels can be detrimental to health due to the crucial roles that vitamin C plays in various physiological processes. Vitamin C is essential for collagen synthesis, antioxidant defense, iron absorption, immune function, and neurotransmitter synthesis. Deficiency in vitamin C can lead to a range of health problems, including impaired wound healing, weakened blood vessels, increased susceptibility to infections, and overall compromised health and well-being.

Is vitamin C deficiency serious?

Yes, vitamin C deficiency can be serious, especially if left untreated. It can lead to the development of scurvy, a condition characterized by a range of debilitating symptoms that can significantly impair quality of life. Severe vitamin C deficiency can also lead to complications such as anemia and weakened immune function.

How can vitamin C deficiency be cured?

Vitamin C deficiency can be cured by increasing vitamin C intake through dietary changes and/or supplements. Consuming vitamin C-rich foods and drinks, such as fruits, vegetables, and juices, can help restore adequate levels of vitamin C in the body. In severe cases, vitamin C supplements or intravenous vitamin C may be necessary, particularly under medical supervision.

How to increase vitamin C?

There are several ways to increase your intake of vitamin C:
Include vitamin C-rich foods in your diet, such as citrus fruits, strawberries, kiwi, bell peppers, broccoli, and spinach.
Eat raw fruits and vegetables whenever possible to preserve their vitamin C content.
Drink freshly squeezed juices from vitamin C-rich fruits.
Limit cooking time and use methods like steaming or microwaving to retain more of the vitamin C content in foods.
Consider taking vitamin C supplements under the guidance of a healthcare professional if dietary sources are insufficient.


Vitamin C plays a vital role in maintaining overall health and well-being, with its deficiency leading to significant health consequences. Scurvy, a condition caused by vitamin C deficiency, serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of adequate nutrient intake. Symptoms such as fatigue, swollen gums, joint pain, and slow wound healing underscore the critical role of vitamin C in various physiological processes, including collagen synthesis, antioxidant defense, and immune function.

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