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.

Many minerals and vitamins are co-factors in all the fundamental enzyme processes and are thus essential for life, so there is no point 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 9th February, 2023.

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 ourselves against colds and flu; get your immune systems in order.

This is no treatment for coronavirus, for example; the best we can do is to help maintain our immunity, get plenty of sleep and moderate exercise.

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

Choice foods

Choice foods are not difficult for most of us reading this essay to acquire. The challenge is not finding citrus and peppers but easy ways to get them in sufficient quantities so that we do not have to resort to supplements; that is 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.

Mayer lemon trees

It took me just a few minutes to pick these mandarin oranges this morning, one more to halve them and another two to squeeze them; five or six in total. It beats OJ in a carton hands down. Notice that I have removed the strainer giving us all the pulp too; that is where much of the vitamin C and other nutrients are 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 usually 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; researchers say it is more effective than from supplements. And it is a lot cheaper too.

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

Vitamin C deficiency symptoms

So once again what are these vitamin C deficiency symptoms? You are probably getting irritated with me but because they are so common, and neglected, I keep repeating them; 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 fundamental 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; it has little merit.

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 breakfast plate and lunch platter for the solution.

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


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

Vitamin C deficiency symptoms include one of these 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.


The WHO estimates that over 30% of women worldwide and 40 percent of children are anaemic; with insufficient heamoglobin to carrying oxygen to the tissues it is little wonder that "tired all the time" syndrome is so prevalent.

That means fatigue and lethargy.

"The enhancement of nonheme iron absorption from vegetable meals is directly proportional to the quantity of vitamin C present."

- Ann NY Acad Sci.

Vitamin C deficiency symptoms are diverse and profoundly important. This three bean shakshuka, enjoyed instead of refined cereals for breakfast would totally cure anaemia. It is rich in the three main causes; inadequate iron, folate and B12 in the diet.

Three bean shakshukaDiverse greens, eggs and beans will cure dietary anaemia. Peppadews for vitamin C.

Notice the deep orange colour of free-range eggs. That's the beta carotene; another enhancer of iron absorption.

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 for me as I enjoy my 76th orbit of the sun. The world will not stop but how many more trips will Bernard Preston have on board the late, great planet Earth? It's looking more like the ill-fated Titanic every day.

I have decided to do my bit for king and country; and ensure that I am making my contribution to a planet habitable for my great-grandchildren. Will you join me by turning your world into a cyan zone[2]? That means caring for the wellbeing of your family and Mother Earth; blue and green issues.

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

Useful links


Our newsletter is entitled "create a cyan zone" at your home, preserving both yourself and Mother Earth for future generations; and your family too, of course. We promise not to spam you with daily emails promoting various products. You may get an occasional nudge to buy one of my books.

Here are the back issues.

  • Investing in long-term health
  • Diseases from plastic exposure
  • Intensive lifestyle management for obesity has limited value
  • A world largely devoid of Parkinson's Disease
  • The impact of friendly bacteria in the tum on the prevention of cancer
  • There's a hole in the bucket
  • Everyone is talking about weight loss drugs
  • Pull the sweet tooth
  • If you suffer from heartburn plant a susu
  • Refined maize meal and stunting
  • Should agriculture and industry get priority for water and electricity?
  • Nature is calling
  • Mill your own flour
  • Bake your own sourdough bread
  • Microplastics from our water
  • Alternative types of water storage
  • Wear your clothes out
  • Comfort foods
  • Create a bee-friendly environment
  • Go to bed slightly hungry
  • Keep bees
  • Blue zone folk are religious
  • Reduce plastic waste
  • Family is important
  • What can go in compost?
  • Grow broad beans for longevity
  • Harvest and store sunshine
  • Blue zone exercise
  • Harvest and store your rainwater
  • Create a cyan zone at your home

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56 Groenekloof Rd,

Hilton, KZN

South Africa