Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)

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Signs & Symptoms of Vitamin C Deficiency:

  • Dry and splitting hair
  • Inflammation of the gums (gingivitis)
  • Rough, dry, scaly skin (hyperkeratosis)
  • Easy bruising and slow healing
  • Infertility
  • Histamine elevations
  • Easy bruising
  • Spontaneous nosebleeds
  • Weakened enamel of the teeth
  • Swollen and painful joints
  • Gallstone formation
  • Anemia
  • Increased susceptibility to infection
  • Weight gain (due to metabolic slowing)
  • Weight loss

Vitamin C has been shown to be beneficial in the following conditions:

  • Cancer
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Cardiovascular disease and atherosclerosis
  • Arthritis, especially osteoarthritis
  • Recovery from surgery
  • Multiple Myeloma
  • Certain immuno suppressed states, supports immune system function and
  • killing function of certain white blood cells called phagocytes
  • Bone health (osteoporosis, osteopenia, etc.)
  • May help reduce cholesterol and blood pressure
  • Prevention of cataracts and macular degeneration in combination with other
  • vitamins
  • Diabetes
  • Dementias and depression
  • Gum disease (gingivitis)
  • Glaucoma
  • Slowing the progression of Parkinson’s disease
  • Allergy related conditions
  • Reducing the adverse effects of sun exposure
  • Alleviating dry mouth, especially related to medications that cause dry mouth
  • Healing of burns and wounds
  • Scurvy

Drugs/Medications that deplete or interfere with Vitamin C:

  • Aspirin and other NSAIDS
  • Birth control pills (oral contraceptives and hormone replacement)
  • Cyclosporine
  • Corticosteroids and glucocorticoids
  • Furosemide (Lasix), and other diuretics such as caffeine
  • Heparin and coumadin (blood thinners)

Laboratory testing to detect Vitamin C deficiency:

  • Lymphocyte functional tests and plasma tests commonly used for Vitamin C status, but the reliability  is in question.  No definitive test exists that consistently and reliably detects vitamin C deficiency.

Food Sources:

  • High:  Acercola cherries, broccoli, brussel sprouts, collards, guava, rose hips, black currant
  • Moderate:  Cabbage, spinach, citrus fruits, strawberries, cauliflower, chives, green peppers (jalapenos), red peppers, watermelon, tomatoes, kiwi, mango, cranberries, potatoes, winter squash, raspberries, blueberries, pineapple


  1. Shils ME, et al, ed.  Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease 9th Edition.  Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 1999.
  2. Garrison R Jr, Somer E.  The Nutritional Desk Reference 3rd Edition.  Keats, 1995.
  3. Kirschmann GJ, Kirschmann JD.  Nutrition Almanac 4th Edition.  McGraw Hill,1996.
  4. Wardlaw GW, Insel PM, Seyler MF.  Contemporary Nutrition Issues & Insights.  Mosby, 1992.