In a study of middle-aged and older men and women, those with the highest blood levels of vitamin C were significantly less likely to develop diabetes over 12 years than those with the lowest levels, researchers found.
Fruits and vegetables are the main source of vitamin C in Western diets, and blood levels of vitamin C are good markers of fruit and vegetable intake, Dr Nita G. Forouhi, at the Institute of Metabolic Science at Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, England, and colleagues note.
Fruit and vegetables important
The current findings "re-endorse the public health message of the beneficial effect of increasing total fruit and vegetable intake," the investigators wrote in Archives of Internal Medicine.
Forouhi's team followed 21 831 healthy men and women who were 40 to 75 years old for the development of type 2 diabetes. At study entry, all participants provided detailed health and lifestyle information, as well as blood samples, which investigators used to determine vitamin C levels.
Over the course of the study, 423 men and 312 women developed type 2 diabetes, an overall rate of 3.2 percent.
Lowers diabetes risk dramatically
According to the investigators, the likelihood of developing diabetes was 62 percent lower in men and women with the highest circulating vitamin C levels, relative to men and women with the lowest vitamin C levels.
Factoring out other characteristics associated with diabetes risk, such as older age, gender, family history, alcohol intake, physical activity, smoking status and body weight did not significantly alter these associations.
These data offer "persuasive evidence of a beneficial effect of vitamin C and fruit and vegetable intake on diabetes risk," Forouhi and colleagues conclude. - (Reuters Health)
SOURCE: Archives of Internal Medicine, July 28, 2008