Megadose effects of vitamin C on vitamin B-12 status in the rat

J Nutr. 1989 Aug;119(8):1107-14. doi: 10.1093/jn/119.8.1107.


Effects of ascorbic acid ingestion on the severity of vitamin B-12 deficiency were investigated by feeding weanling rats experimental diets containing 0-100 micrograms of vitamin B-12 activity per kg of diet, with or without 6.0 mg of ascorbic acid per ml supplied in drinking water for 15 wk. This daily consumption of up to 150 mg of ascorbic acid did not impair growth, but did result in significantly higher concentrations of ascorbic acid in plasma, liver, adrenal glands and feces. When rats were fed diets deficient or marginally deficient in vitamin B-12, liver concentrations of vitamin B-12 were markedly lower than in liver of rats fed adequate vitamin B-12. Ascorbic acid ingestion raised values significantly in the vitamin B-12-deficient diet group. Urinary methylmalonic acid was significantly elevated in the deficient rats. However, it was significantly reduced to more normal values by ascorbic acid in rats with both low and marginal vitamin B-12 status, as defined by dietary and liver concentrations of vitamin B-12 activity. Although coprophagy was not prevented, rats showed no increased consumption of feces with the higher ascorbic acid content. Thus, the results of this research indicate that vitamin C ingestion partially protects rats from vitamin B-12 deficiency.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Glands / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Ascorbic Acid / administration & dosage
  • Ascorbic Acid / pharmacology*
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Coprophagia
  • Diet
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Feces / analysis
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Male
  • Methylmalonic Acid / urine
  • Random Allocation
  • Rats
  • Vitamin B 12 / metabolism*


  • Methylmalonic Acid
  • Vitamin B 12
  • Ascorbic Acid