Study Suggests Women May Need More Vitamin C

Recent findings by researchers at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and Vanderbilt University indicate that the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of vitamin C may need to increase to 90 milligrams a day for young women. The study appears in the August 14 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The current RDA of 75 milligrams for women was set by the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences based on data that had been gathered for men, says Dr. Mark Levine, chief of NIDDKs Molecular and Clinical Nutrition Section and lead author of the study. "With the new data, we can make a more accurate recommendation for women."

Using Food and Nutrition Board criteria, Levine, NIDDK colleagues Dr. Yaohui Wang and Dr. Sebastian Padayatty, and Dr. Jason Morrow of Vanderbilt studied long-term vitamin C uptake in 15 women. The healthy women, aged 19 to 27, were evaluated from 158 to 214 days at NIH. After they were put on a diet that depleted them of vitamin C, the women received daily vitamin C doses that varied from 30 to 2,500 milligrams. The researchers found that at doses of 100 to 200 milligrams, cells and blood plasma nearly reached their saturation points for vitamin C. The authors believe their study is the first to describe the relationship between vitamin C doses and steady-state concentrations in healthy young women.

Vitamin C clearly prevents deficiency diseases like scurvy, but what higher concentrations might do is unclear. Levine says eating five fruits and vegetables daily would give a healthy woman approximately 200 milligrams of vitamin C and provide other health benefits such as decreased cancer risk.

Source: NIDDK

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