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Am J Epidemiol. 2009 Aug 15;170(4):464-71. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwp156. Epub 2009 Jul 13.

Vitamin C deficiency in a population of young Canadian adults.

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  • 1Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


A cross-sectional study of the 979 nonsmoking women and men aged 20-29 years who participated in the Toronto Nutrigenomics and Health Study from 2004 to 2008 was conducted to determine the prevalence of serum ascorbic acid (vitamin C) deficiency and its association with markers of chronic disease in a population of young Canadian adults. High performance liquid chromatography was used to determine serum ascorbic acid concentrations from overnight fasting blood samples. A 1-month, 196-item food frequency questionnaire was used to assess dietary intakes. Results showed that 53% of subjects had adequate, 33% had suboptimal, and 14% had deficient levels of serum ascorbic acid. Subjects with deficiency had significantly higher measurements of mean C-reactive protein, waist circumference, body mass index, and blood pressure than did subjects with adequate levels of serum ascorbic acid. The odds ratio for serum ascorbic acid deficiency was 3.43 (95% confidence interval: 2.14, 5.50) for subjects who reported not meeting the recommended daily intake of vitamin C compared with those who did. Results suggest that 1 of 7 young adults has serum ascorbic acid deficiency, in part, because of unmet recommended dietary intakes. Furthermore, serum ascorbic acid deficiency is associated with elevated markers of chronic disease in this population of young adults, which may have long-term adverse health consequences.

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