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 >or=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 micromol l(-1)), and a further fifth of the population had levels in the depleted range (11-28 micromol l(-1)). Being a man, reporting low-dietary vitamin C intake, not taking vitamin supplements and smoking were predictors of plasma vitamin C levels <or=28 micromol 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.