We have investigated the relationship between decline in lung function and dietary intakes of magnesium, vitamin C, and other antioxidant vitamins in a general population cohort in Nottingham, United Kingdom. In 1991, we measured dietary intake by semiquantitative food frequency questionnaire, forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1), and respiratory symptoms in a cross-sectional survey of 2,633 adults aged 18-70. Nine years later we repeated these measures in 1,346 of these individuals. In cross-sectional analyses, after adjustment for smoking and other confounders, higher intakes of vitamin C and magnesium, but not vitamins A or E, were associated with higher levels of FEV1 in both 1991 and 2000. In longitudinal analysis with adjustment for confounders, decline in FEV1 between 1991 and 2000 was lower amongst those with higher average vitamin C intake by 50.8 ml (95% confidence interval, 3.8-97.9) per 100 mg of vitamin C per day, but was unrelated to magnesium intake. There was no relationship between decline in FEV1 and intake of vitamins A or E. This study suggests that a high dietary intake of vitamin C, or of foods rich in this vitamin, may reduce the rate of loss of lung function in adults and thereby help to prevent chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.