Estimated prevalence and predictors of vitamin C deficiency within UK's low-income population

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Abstract

Background

Recent case reports of scurvy indicate that vitamin C deficiency may be more prevalent that generally assumed. The Low Income Diet and Nutrition Survey (2003–05) of a representative sample of the low-income/materially deprived UK population included a plasma vitamin C measurement.

Methods

Adults aged ≥19 years from all countries/regions of UK were screened to identify low-income/materially deprived households. A valid plasma vitamin C measurement was made in 433 men and 876 women. The results were weighted for sampling probability and non-response.

Results

An estimated 25% of men and 16% of women in the low-income/materially deprived population had plasma vitamin C concentrations indicative of deficiency (<11 µmol l−1), and a further fifth of the population had levels in the depleted range (11–28 µmol l−1). Being a man, reporting low-dietary vitamin C intake, not taking vitamin supplements and smoking were predictors of plasma vitamin C levels ≤28 µmol l−1 in mutually adjusted logistic regression models.

Conclusion

Health professionals need to be aware that poor vitamin C status is relatively common among adults living on a low income.

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