The Minimum Requirement for Vitamin C

The minimum requirement for vitamin C was established in the Sheffield study (Medical Research Council, 1948), which showed that an intake of marginally less than 10 mg per day was adequate to prevent the development of scurvy or to cure the clinical signs. Results from the Iowa study (Baker et al., 1969,

Table 13.3 Reference Intakes of Vitamin C (mg/day)

U.K. EU U.S./Canada Age 1991 1993 2000

FAO 2001

0-3 m

25

40

25

4-6 m

25

40

25

7-9 m

25

20

50

30

10-12 m

25

20

50

30

1-3 y

30

25

15

30

4-6 y

30

25

25

30

7-8 y

30

30

25

35

Males

9-10 y

30

30

45

40

11-13 y

35

35

45

40

14-15 y

40

35

75

40

16-18 y

40

40

75

40

19-30 y

40

45

90

45

31-50 y

40

45

90

45

51-70 y

40

45

90

45

>70 y

40

45

90

45

Females

9-10 y

30

30

45

40

11-13 y

35

35

45

40

14-15 y

40

35

65

40

16-18 y

40

40

75

40

19-30 y

40

45

75

45

31-50 y

40

45

75

45

51-70 y

40

45

75

45

>70 y

40

45

75

45

Pregnant

50

55

85

55

Lactating

70

70

120

70

EU, European Union; FAO, Food and Agriculture Organization; WHO, World Health Organization.

Sources: Department of Health, 1991; Scientific Committee for Food, 1993; Institute of Medicine, 2000; FAO/WHO, 2001.

1971; Hodges et al., 1969, 1971) suggested that as little as 6.5 mg per day were adequate, and studies in India show that intakes as low as 10 mg per day are compatible with health.

However, at this level of intake, the subjects in the Sheffield study had impaired wound healing, as assessed by the tensile strength of scar tissue. Optimum wound healing required a mean intake of 20 mg per day. Allowing for individual variation, this gives a reference intake of 30 mg per day, which was the British reference intake until 1991 and the World Health Organization reference intake until 2001.

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