Fruit, vegetable and vitamin C intakes and plasma vitamin C: cross-sectional associations with insulin resistance and glycaemia in 9-10 year-old children, 2015

Topics: Vitamin C, glycaemia, diabetes type 2, insulin resistens

Authors: A. S. Donin, J. E. Dent, C. M. Nightingale, N. Sattar, C. G. Owen, A. R. Rudnicka, M. R. Perkin, A. M. Stephen, S. A. Jebb, D. G. Cook and P. H. Whincup


Aim: To examine whether low circulating vitamin C concentrations and low fruit and vegetable intakes were associated with insulin resistance and other Type 2 diabetes risk markers in childhood.

Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional, school-based study in 2025 UK children aged 9-10 years, predominantly of white European, South-Asian and black African origin. A 24-h dietary recall was used to assess fruit, vegetable and vitamin C intakes. Height, weight and fat mass were measured and a fasting blood sample collected to measure plasma vitamin C concentrations and Type 2 diabetes risk markers.

Results: In analyses adjusting for confounding variables (including socio-economic status), a one interquartile range higher plasma vitamin C concentration (30.9 μmol/l) was associated with a 9.6% (95% CI 6.5, 12.6%) lower homeostatic model assessment of insulin resistance value, 0.8% (95% CI 0.4, 1.2%) lower fasting glucose, 4.5% (95% CI 3.2, 5.9%) lower urate and 2.2% (95% CI 0.9, 3.4%) higher HDL cholesterol. HbA1c concentration was 0.6% (95% CI 0.2, 1.0%) higher. Dietary fruit, vegetable and total vitamin C intakes were not associated with any Type 2 diabetes risk markers. Lower plasma vitamin C concentrations in South-Asian and black African-Caribbean children could partly explain their higher insulin resistance.

Conclusions: Lower plasma vitamin C concentrations are associated with insulin resistance and could partly explain ethnic differences in insulin resistance. Experimental studies are needed to establish whether increasing plasma vitamin C can help prevent Type 2 diabetes at an early stage.

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