Vitamin C Deficiency


Everyone knows that if you are sick, it’s a good idea to take Vitamin C. For those with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, bruising and bleeding (nose-bleeds/hematomas) is an everyday event, as well. Vitamin C plays a role in collagen, carnitine, hormone, and amino acid formation. It is essential for wound healing and facilitates recovery from burns. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant, supports immune function, and facilitates the absorption of iron.

High-dose  ascorbic acid (vitamin C) therapy has been tried and, in theory, has a potential effect. Clinical studies suggest that wound healing, even in patients not deficient in vitamin C, can improve with supplementation above the recommended daily allowance. In patients with kyphoscoliosis type EDS, bleeding time, wound healing, and muscle strength seem to improve after 1 year of daily high-dose vitamin C therapy; however, high-dose vitamin C therapy is not considered the standard of care and requires medical clearance for use.

Speaking from experience, Vitamin C is vital to not only healing of bruises, but prevention. When I was a child, my doctor put me on a 2,000 mg of vitamin C. My children, who have EDS, also are on that dosage. As an adult, I have been told to up it to 5,000 mg.  ( Please start at 500mg and work your way up to 5,000 mg since it does cause runny stools. ) I have noticed, though, that when my Magnesium drops, my Vitamin C levels are also low and I bruise easy again. (See Magnesium Deficiency) My favorite brand of Vitamin C is Ester C because it is easier on the Digestive System. Connective Tissue Disorders already have a hard time with the stomach tissue, so it’s a good idea to prevent problems.

This is not the same for ALL individuals, but specifically for EDSers.

Vitamin C Rich Foods

There are many foods that are rich in Vitamin C. Many of them have more Vitamin C in them than Oranges! Some of them include: Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cauliflower, Chili Peppers, Green Bell Peppers, Kale, Kiwi, Mango, Papaya, Red Bell, Peppers, Pineapple, and Strawberries.

Vitamin C Absorption

While taking 5,000g of Vitamin C supplement at my doctor’s request, I noticed that my stomach hadn’t been absorbing it well. At first, I thought, “I must be taking too much, now. Maybe my body has adjusted.” But while walking across my floor, I bruised the bottoms of my feet and it was painful. I knew that I was not absorbing it well and that my body needed it. So, I began to research Vitamin C absorption. I also began taking Vitamin C in half doses twice a day. (2,500g in the morning, 2,500g for lunch) I have always heard that Vitamin C helps Iron to absorb better, but it doesn’t work well the other way around.

I was made aware of Flavanoids or Bioflavanoids; what used to be called Vitamin P aids in the absorption of Vitamin C. Flavanoids promote blood vessel health, including improve capillary strength, prevents accumulation of atherosclerotic plaque, has anti-inflammatory properties acting against histamines, may help protect against infection and blood vessel disease, may lower blood pressure by relaxing smooth muscle of cardiovascular system, may inhibit tumor growth, may have estrogen-like activity, may prevent hemorrhoids, miscarriages, capillary fragility, nosebleed, retinal bleeding in people with diabetes and hypertension, and may lower cholesterol levels.

While it is available in both liquid and tablet form, there are also many foods that include Flavanoids including: Almonds, Apricots, Apples, Bananas, Bell peppers, Bilberry, Blackcurrants, Blueberries, Broccoli, Buckwheat, Cabbage, Cantaloupe, Celery, Cherries, Chili peppers, Citrus fruits, Cranberries, Garbanzo beans, Ginkgo, Grapes, Grapefruit, Green Peppers, Green tea, Hawthorn, Lemons, Lettuce, Milk thistle, Onions, Oranges, Parsley, Peaches, Pears, Plums, Quinoa, Red wine, Raspberries, Romaine lettuce, Rose hips, Strawberries, Sweet potatoes, Tomatoes, Turnip greens, Watermelon, and Yarrow. It’s important to note that in the U.S. the largest single source of Flavonoids is Black and Green tea.

Most documented risks for flavonoid deficiency have already been discussed since they involve poor dietary intake. Overconsumption of processed foods, overcooking of foods, and underconsumption of fresh vegetables and fruits are the primary circumstances related to deficiency. Risk of dietary deficiency for flavonoids is basically synonymous with low dietary intake of whole, natural foods, and in particular, low intake of vegetables and fruits. By far your best way to ensure ample flavonoid intake is to maximize your intake of whole natural foods, including fresh, brightly colored vegetables and fruits whose flavonoid pigments provide them with their vibrant colors. This approach sounds simple, and it is a great method for increasing your flavonoid intake. Most supplements with Vitamin C and Bioflavanoids together include them with a 50:50 ratio.

I am not aware of any evidence that dietary flavonoids can be directly toxic, even in meal plants that contain an abundance of fresh vegetables and fruits as well as an abundance of nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, and whole grains. When consumption of the foods above is very high, the total fiber content of the diet usually goes up dramatically. I would expect high flavonoid intake from whole natural foods to accompany diets high in dietary fiber, and just do not see toxicity risks being associated with this type of dietary intake. In addition, Flavonoids are water-soluble.

Vitamin C Toxicity

The upper limit for vitamin C intake is 2000 mg/day. Up to 10 g/day of vitamin C are sometimes taken for unproven health benefits, such as preventing or shortening the duration of viral infections or slowing or reversing the progression of cancer or atherosclerosis. Such doses may acidify the urine, cause nausea and diarrhea, interfere with the healthy antioxidant-prooxidant balance in the body, and, in patients with thalassemia or hemochromatosis, promote iron overload. Intake below the upper limit does not have toxic effects in healthy adults.


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