Vitamin C deficiency symptoms

Vitamin C deficiency symptoms start with tiredness, fatigue and lethargy. Is there anything more typically Western than that? We are quick to blame our lifestyle, poor sleeping habits and hard work, but it is interesting that the primary sign of scurvy is a feeling of malaise.

All of them are co-factors in many vital enzyme processes and are thus essential for life, so there is no pointing making an artificial order of merit, as if one is more important than others.

Mandarin orange showing a profusion of fruit, rich in vitamin C.

This page was last updated by Bernard Preston on 12th February, 2020.

By Bernard Preston

A serious shortage of vitamin C causes scurvy which results in death. Far more sailors succumbed to the disease than were ever killed by the mighty armadas that brought nations together in violent conflict.

And the first sign of scurvy is tiredness; have you lost your zip?

It is autumn now in South Africa and I find it interesting that the two primary food sources of vitamin C are at this time abundant in our garden. It is as though nature is saying, winter is coming, so it is time to fortify yourself against colds and flu, and get your immune systems in order.

So, what are those two main foods supplying our vitamin C? It is not rocket science. I am sure we all know one, and that is citrus, and the other is the pepper family. And both are abundant right now in our garden. You will find them both at the greengrocer.

Healthy choice foods

Healthy choice foods are not difficult to get for most of us. The difficulty is not getting citrus and peppers, but finding easy ways to get them in sufficient quantities so that we do not have to resort to supplements, always a second best.

Our mandarin orange tree is bent over almost to the ground; the crop of sweet, juicy fruit is so heavy.

Limes too are abundant. The British were first to realise the cure for scurvy, and more important prevention of this serious disease that causes primarily malaise and tiredness, remember, lay in citrus; hence their sailors were called limeys.

Limes in autumn

Perhaps my favourite though is the Meyer lemon. Flowering twice a year, it has fruit for eight months of the year.

Mayer lemon trees

It took me two minutes to pick these mandarin oranges this morning, one minute to halve them, and another two to squeeze them. Five minutes in all, it beats OJ in a carton hands down. Notice that I have removed the strainer giving us the pulp and all; that is where much of the vitamin C and other nutrients is found.

Orange juice squeezer but keep the pulp for more vitamin C.

Pepper family

Jalapenos peppers are another rich source of vitamin C.

The pepper family too should be included.

Second in richness of prevention of our vitamin C deficiency symptoms, initially tiredness and malaise remember, is the capsicum family.

That means we need sweet peppers of all colours, and their fiery cousins. If you are susceptible to colds and flu, depression and weak blood vessels, they should be daily on the menu, particularly in autumn and winter; but year-round in fact.

I enjoy at least two of these delicious jalapenos or peppadews every single day from early summer to late winter. If you split them in half and lightly saute or parboil them, they lose much of their real burn, but it also reduces the vitamin C content.

They give a green salad, that can be a rather dull, a little something extra, and are wonderful for example in eggs Florentine. I also add a few tomatoes in part for their vitamin C content, but also for the prostate gland.

A tomato a day keeps the urologist at bay.

Because it is water-soluble, we need to be seeking extra sources of vitamin C daily from our food, because researchers say it is more effective than from supplements; and it is a lot cheaper too.

Fresh orange juice with eggs Florentine
  • Tomato prostate
Jalapeno autumn
Bell peppers vitamin C

Vitamin C deficiency symptoms

Vitamin C deficiency symptoms, so, what are they? You are probably getting irritated but because it is so common, and so neglected, I keep repeating tiredness, malaise and depression. Reach for an orange, not for an anti depressant.

  • Tiredness and malaise
  • Depression
  • Fragile blood vessels
  • Weakened ligaments and tendons
  • Pale
  • Gum disease
  • Poor wound and intervertebral disc healing


Collagen formation requires vitamin C; it is a vital part of the process in which this glue that holds our cells together is built from the protein we eat. If it is even mildly deficient, our slipped discs and sprained ankles simply will not heal properly, and hence my interest as a DC[1]

Vitamin C is water soluble; it is both lost in the liquid we use to cook our food, and is sensitive to heating. Make sure some of the fruit you enjoy is completely raw; squeeze it yourself, or better still, enjoy the whole fruit. OJ in a carton has been raised to a high temperature to sterilise it.

Antalgia right from the posterior needs vitamin C for the cartilage to heal.

I am sure you can see this lady has a serious list to starboard. She has what is known as an antalgia, one of the many signs of a serious slipped disc. I call it the Pisa sign. Reduction of the joint using our standard adjustment, active rehabilitation and vitamin C are major parts of the treatment.

Pisa towers of the human frame need vitamin C to stand up straight.

In short, nutritious choice foods including citrus and the pepper family on a daily basis is what keeps the flu away, promotes healing should we injure discs and ligaments, and gives us that vitality and energy, the spark, that makes life so interesting.

Do you not have enough energy except to sit and watch television? Look to your dinner-plate for the solution.

If you do not want to get arthritis and neoplasms, let your food be your medicine.


Four important vitamins help prevent a seriously escalating frailty syndrome in Western society. Vitamin C is one of them.

Vitamin C deficiency symptoms include one of the five cardinal signs; low energy levels and a complete lack of get up and go. Researchers found that getting the nutrient from food was much more effective than taking it as a supplement; more citrus and peppers.

Bernard Preston

Bernard Preston is a semi-retired DC, interested in nutrition, organic gardening and he is also something of a solar guru.

Becoming a greenie has been a very exciting journey as one approaches the 72th orbit of the sun. The world will not stop but how many more journeys will Bernard Preston have on board the late, great, planet Earth?

I have decided to do my bit for king and country, and make sure I am making my contribution to a planet inhabitable for my great grandchildren. Will you join me?

Finishing his seventh published book in time is one of the last projects; will the Church ever have another married pope?

Useful links

  1. Efficacy of Vitamin C Supplementation on Collagen Synthesis and Oxidative Stress After Musculoskeletal Injuries: A Systematic Review

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Hilton, KZN

South Africa