Objectives: To examine the cross sectional relationship between plasma vitamin C and serum lipids.
Design: Cross-sectional analysis.
Setting: Population based study.
Subjects: 835 Men and 1025 women aged 45-75 registered with GP practices in Norfolk.
Interventions: Completion of health and lifestyle questionnaire and attendance for a health check.
Main outcome measures: Non fasting plasma vitamin C and serum lipids.
Results: Plasma vitamin C was not correlated with serum total cholesterol or LDL cholesterol in men or women. In women plasma vitamin C was positively correlated with HDL cholesterol r = 0.15 (P < 0.001) and negatively correlated with triglyceride r = -0.17 P < 0.001). These correlations persisted after adjustment for age and body mass index. The association in men was weaker and after adjustment for age and body mass index was no longer statistically significant. Exclusion of subjects taking vitamin supplements and those with known hyperlipidaemic did not affect the findings. The difference in HDL cholesterol, adjusted for age, body mass index and alcohol intake, for a 50 micromol/l difference in vitamin C, estimated using linear regression, was 0.11 mmol/l in women. The difference in triglyceride, adjusted for age and body mass index was -0.16 mmol/l in women.
Conclusions: Plasma vitamin C level may be a marker of other factors; nevertheless these results are consistent with other published work indicating that a high intake of vitamin C from food raises serum HDL cholesterol and lowers serum triglyceride.