Global Vitamin C Status and Prevalence of Deficiency: A Cause for Concern?

Nutrients. 2020 Jul 6;12(7):2008. doi: 10.3390/nu12072008.


Vitamin C is an essential nutrient that must be obtained through the diet in adequate amounts to prevent hypovitaminosis C, deficiency and its consequences-including the potentially fatal deficiency disease scurvy. Global vitamin C status and prevalence of deficiency has not previously been reported, despite vitamin C's pleiotropic roles in both non-communicable and communicable disease. This review highlights the global literature on vitamin C status and the prevalence of hypovitaminosis C and deficiency. Related dietary intake is reported if assessed in the studies. Overall, the review illustrates the shortage of high quality epidemiological studies of vitamin C status in many countries, particularly low- and middle-income countries. The available evidence indicates that vitamin C hypovitaminosis and deficiency is common in low- and middle-income countries and not uncommon in high income settings. Further epidemiological studies are required to confirm these findings, to fully assess the extent of global vitamin C insufficiency, and to understand associations with a range of disease processes. Our findings suggest a need for interventions to prevent deficiency in a range of at risk groups and regions of the world.

Keywords: LMIC; communicable disease; dietary intake; hypovitaminosis C; infection; low and middle income; non-communicable disease; supplement; vitamin C deficiency; vitamin C status.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Ascorbic Acid / blood*
  • Ascorbic Acid Deficiency / epidemiology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Developed Countries
  • Developing Countries
  • Diet / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pregnancy
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Young Adult


  • Ascorbic Acid