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

J Public Health (Oxf). 2008 Dec;30(4):456-60. doi: 10.1093/pubmed/fdn076. Epub 2008 Sep 23.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ascorbic Acid Deficiency / blood
  • Ascorbic Acid Deficiency / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Poverty*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology