Scurvy - Lack of Vitamin C: How to Identify and Treat

Scurvy is a currently rare disease, caused by a severe lack of vitamin C that manifests itself through symptoms such as easy bleeding of the gums when brushing teeth and difficult healing, and its treatment is done with vitamin C supplementation, indicated by the doctor or nutritionist.

Ascorbic acid, which is vitamin C, can be found in citrus fruits like orange, lemon, pineapple and acerola, and vegetables like potatoes, broccoli, spinach and red pepper. This vitamin remains in a juice for approximately half an hour and cannot resist heat, so vegetables rich in this vitamin should be eaten raw.

The daily recommendation for vitamin C is 30 to 60 mg, but a higher intake is recommended during pregnancy, breastfeeding, by women who take the birth control pill and in people who smoke. Scurvy can be avoided by consuming about 10mg per day.

Symptoms of lack of vitamin C

The signs and symptoms of a severe lack of vitamin C are:


  • Easy bleeding from the skin and gums;
  • Difficulty in wound healing;
  • Easy tiredness;
  • Pallor;
  • Swelling of the gums;
  • Loss of appetite;
  • Dental deformities and falls;
  • Small hemorrhages;
  • Muscle pain;
  • Joint pain.


  • Irritability;
  • Leg pain to the point of not wanting to move it can generate the frog leg position;
  • Loss of appetite / difficulty gaining weight.

These symptoms start 3 to 6 months after stopping the consumption of foods rich in vitamin C and rarely occur in newborns.

The diagnosis of scurvy is made after examining the individual and reviewing eating habits. The disease can be confirmed by observing signs such as generalized osteoporosis, scurvy or Fraenkel line, sign of the Wimberger's halo or ring and the trummerfeld zone on X-rays. Costal rosary and Pelkan spur can also indicate scurvy.

Find out more details of the symptoms of lack of vitamin C here.

What causes

The cause of scurvy is the lack of vitamin C in the body. The lack of this vitamin impairs the formation of collagen, which supports the skin, ligaments and cartilage, and chondroitin sulfate, which together generate the typical signs and symptoms of the disease.

Rebound scurvy can occur when an individual takes excessive doses of vitamin C and then suddenly stops.

Scurvy Treatment

The treatment for scurvy is done with the supplementation of 300 to 500mg of vitamin C, per day, for 3 months.

A good home treatment for scurvy is to increase your intake of vitamin C source foods such as acerola, strawberry, pineapple, orange, lemon, celery, red pepper and others. It is recommended to take 90 to 120ml of freshly made orange juice or ripe tomato, every day, for about 3 months, as a way to complement the treatment.