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The Study Details continued...

Among her findings:

  • 14% of males and 10% of females were vitamin C deficient.
  • Only 6% of 12- to 17-year-olds were deficient.
  • The adults aged 25 to 44 had the worst vitamin C levels.

Nearly one-quarter -- 23% -- of males aged 25 to 44 were vitamin C deficient, compared with 15% of 65- to 74-year-olds.

Among females, 20% of those aged 25 to 44 were deficient, whereas 13% of 65- to 74-year-olds were also vitamin C deficient.

Also:

  • Smokers were nearly four times as likely to be vitamin C deficient as nonsmokers.
  • Those who didn't take a vitamin supplement were three times as likely to be deficient in vitamin C.

Seniors are most likely to purchase and use vitamin supplements, notes Johnston. "Vitamin C consistently ranks as one of the most frequently purchased supplements," she writes.

"We showed that individuals who did not use supplements in the previous month had a greatly increased risk of vitamin C deficiency," she notes. "For many years, physicians, dietitians, and other health professionals have hesitated to discuss vitamin supplements with patients."

Seniors are also more likely to take their medicine with orange juice," says Zanecosky. "A lot of seniors buy fortified orange juice, which has vitamins C, E, D, and calcium added. Children are getting juices fortified with vitamin C."

How often does she have to say it? "Eat fruits and vegetables! We always encourage people to eat a variety. If all you eat is an apple, you won't get vitamin C."

Potatoes are low in fat and calories. "The problem is what people put on top of the potato," Zanecosky tells WebMD. "Salsa adds vitamin C, and is a low-fat, low-cal alternative to sour cream, margarine, or butter. Salsa even counts as an extra vegetable! Broccoli also has vitamin C. Broccoli with cheddar cheese over a potato -- you get calcium, vitamin C -- a lunchtime meal."

Also, ample amounts of vitamin C are found in:

  • Guava
  • Papaya
  • Mango
  • Kiwi
  • Orange juice
  • Oranges
  • Strawberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Grapefruit
  • Pineapple
  • Potatoes
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers

Zanecosky advises eating foods rather than relying on supplements. "The foods have many more other vitamins and minerals that you don't get in a pill," she notes. "They're low in calories, low in fat, and fill you up. Don't tell me you can't find food on this list that's good."

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