Vitamin C deficiency in low income households

GPs should look out for signs of vitamin C deficiency in patients from low income households, UK research suggests.

This latest study focused on the most deprived households in the UK, selected using a screening questionnaire which assessed factors such as car ownership, employment status, household income and housing benefits.

A total of 433 men and 876 women were identified for the study.

Measurements of plasma vitamin C levels found that 46 per cent of men and 35 per cent of women were found to be either deficient in vitamin C (less than 11micromol-1) or depleted in vitamin C (11-28micromol-1).

The researchers, from University College London, conclude that health practitioners should consider vitamin C deficiency in patients presenting with purpuric rash, hyperplastic haemorrhagic gingival enlargement, limping or low-grade inflammation.

They also warn that some patients with scurvy will only have vague symptoms such as aching muscles and fatigue.

Journal of Public Health Online 2008

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