Vitamin C and Citrus Fruits: The Dangers of Deficiency

On a cold winter’s day, the sunny taste of citrus fruit might be some consolation. Considering that an orange only contains 62 calories and a small clementine packs only 35, these nutritional gems sure pack a powerful punch of nutrients, including vitamin C, potassium, and magnesium.

Vitamin C

Citrus fruit is perhaps best known for it’s vitamin C content, and for good reason. After all, this vitamin is necessary for the health of all body tissues. It is needed to form blood vessels, cartilage, and muscle. In fact, it is even necessary to synthesize the collage in bone.


Vitamin C deficiency, known as scurvy, causes anemia, exhaustion, hemorrhage, leg pain, broken bones, rotten gums, and loss of teeth. Seizures, aneurysms, and psychosis often develop. The body literally disintegrates. It is an excruciating death that was experienced, according to National Geographic, by three times as many sailors between the 15th and 18th centuries as soldiers killed in the Civil War. British sailors were known as “limeys” because of the citrus fruit they eventually ate to prevent scurvy. Scurvy is still a problem globally and in the United States, where it is most common among the homeless, individuals with alcohol dependence disorder, and home-bound elderly. However, it also occurs among college students and individuals living in food deserts.

Get Your Free Vitamin C Handout Here

This handout provides plenty of information on vitamin C and citrus fruit.

A Few Recipes for Inspiration

We’ve all had plenty of delicious citrus-based desserts, but how often do you work these tangy fruits into your main entree? Add sunny flavor to your meal tonight with one of these recipes:

Slow-Roasted Salmon with Fennel, Citrus, and Chiles (Bon Appetit)

Citrus Salad with Arugula and Ricotta Salata (Saveur)

Lemon Basil Pasta (Midwest Living)

Lime Chicken Tacos (Taste of Home)