Does vitamin C deficiency affect cognitive development and function?

Nutrients. 2014 Sep 19;6(9):3818-46. doi: 10.3390/nu6093818.


Vitamin C is a pivotal antioxidant in the brain and has been reported to have numerous functions, including reactive oxygen species scavenging, neuromodulation, and involvement in angiogenesis. Absence of vitamin C in the brain has been shown to be detrimental to survival in newborn SVCT2(-/-) mice and perinatal deficiency have shown to reduce hippocampal volume and neuron number and cause decreased spatial cognition in guinea pigs, suggesting that maternal vitamin C deficiency could have severe consequences for the offspring. Furthermore, vitamin C deficiency has been proposed to play a role in age-related cognitive decline and in stroke risk and severity. The present review discusses the available literature on effects of vitamin C deficiency on the developing and aging brain with particular focus on in vivo experimentation and clinical studies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging
  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / metabolism*
  • Ascorbic Acid / metabolism*
  • Ascorbic Acid Deficiency / complications*
  • Brain* / growth & development
  • Brain* / metabolism
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology*
  • Cognition Disorders / metabolism
  • Cognition*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Stroke / etiology
  • Stroke / metabolism
  • Vitamins / metabolism*


  • Antioxidants
  • Vitamins
  • Ascorbic Acid