Vitamin C deficiency risk alert; see how to avoid

“We buy vitamins at the grocery store and not at the pharmacy,” explains the specialist. (Photo: Getty Images)

Far from the limelight, focused in recent years on vitamin D, another nutrient, or its lack, has entered the radar of scientists. A new study by researchers at Flinders University in Australia indicates that cognitive impairment may be linked to vitamin C deficiency.

The finding warns of low levels of this vitamin, especially in the elderly. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), between 25% and 30% of people in this age group suffer from a nutrient deficiency.

“Previous research has shown that vitamin C plays an important role in brain function and that its deficiency may be associated with cognitive impairment, depression and mental confusion,” says lead author Yogesh Sharma, professor of medicine at university. Cognitive disorders lead to difficulties in remembering things, concentrating or making decisions, for example.

The research, which involved 160 hospitalized patients over the age of 75, showed that cognitive function scores were significantly lower in vitamin C-deficient patients, nearly three times more likely to develop problems than in the elderly. well fed.

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, participating in a cleansing process of the body by acting in the elimination of free radicals. Thus, it plays an important role against aging, not only in the skin, for which it is best known, but also in the protection of brain cells.

Brazilian Food and Nutrition Society vice president, nutritionist Helio Vannucchi, new study bolsters European research that points to vitamin’s importance in brain health, especially in older people .

“Vitamin C is part of an enzyme system. One of them promotes the formation of collagen, a substance that acts as a ligament between one cell and another in the layer that surrounds the vessels. If this collagen is missing, the cells do not unite properly, then the blood escapes from the vessels, causing micro-haemorrhages, which also lead to muscle fragility, a condition also typical of the elderly, ”explains the nutritionist.

Disability is not as common among young adults. Older people, however, are more at risk for poor diets. Behind this there are socio-economic factors, since fruit and vegetables are more expensive, difficulties in traveling to buy fresh produce, chewing problems that interfere with absorption and the very lack of appetite due to age. All this contributes to the lack of vitamin C in the body.

Dry skin, brittle hair, difficult healing, intense skin aging and bleeding gums are some of the signs of a lack of vitamin C. But, to certify the deficiency, a blood test must be carried out.


Helio Vannucchi says supplementation with this vitamin should only be done with a doctor’s prescription because it’s usually not necessary and can be toxic.

“My maxim is that you buy vitamins at the grocery store and not at the pharmacy. People buy bottles of vitamin C, take them without advice and are at risk of toxic conditions, with diarrhea and the formation of urinary stones. The recommendation is 75 mg per day for women and 90 mg for men. If you get this, it’s ok, you don’t need more. The limit is 1 g and beyond that you risk complications.

Nutritionist Priscilla Primi also argues that the first step is to improve the diet. According to her, in the case of vitamin C, the more you take, the less the body absorbs. And, because it’s water soluble, it’s excreted, meaning the body doesn’t store it for later, like it does with vitamin D.

“Very high amounts, more than 1 gram, which is contained in effervescent tablets, can overload the renal system and even lead to kidney stones in people with a tendency. If she has a good fruit intake, one or two a day, she does not need to supplement. That’s enough,” he explains.

The greatest source of vitamin C comes from fruits. Orange, lemon, acerola, guava, papaya, kiwi, cashew and tangerine are called food source.

“But if the person has a diet rich in other fruits and vegetables, they won’t have a deficiency, because most of them have vitamin C, even in smaller amounts,” he says.

In addition to the aforementioned fruits, this vitamin can be found in other foods, less recognized by the nutrient, such as peppers, watercress, broccoli, cauliflower, arugula, cabbage, tomato and even the lettuce. There are also fruits for all tastes, adding passion fruit, pineapple, strawberry, mango, grape, apple and banana to the list.