Prevalence and prognostic significance of vitamin C deficiency in patients with acute upper gastrointestinal bleeding: a prospective cohort study

Samuel Hui, Andy Lim, Elaine Koh, Joshua Abasszade, Aparna Morgan, Pei Y. Tan, Christopher Lemoh, Marcus Robertson

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Background: Vitamin C is an essential dietary nutrient important for collagen synthesis, including within the gastrointestinal tract. Aim: We aimed to document the prevalence of Vitamin C deficiency (VCD) in patients who present with upper gastrointestinal bleeding (UGIB) and its association with clinical outcomes. Methods: We conducted a prospective cohort study of patients presenting with UGIB. Fasting Vitamin C levels were collected at admission. Primary outcomes were the prevalence of VCD (Vitamin C level <23 μmol/L, severe VCD < 12 μmol/L) and a composite outcome of adverse events, stratified by VCD status. Secondary outcomes were prolonged hospitalisation and the need for ICU admission. Results: A total of 227 patients were included (mean age 64.5 years, males 63.9%). VCD was identified in 74 (32.6%) and severe deficiency in 32 (14.1%) patients. VCD was associated with a higher composite endpoint of AE (45.9% vs 24.8%, p < 0.01), higher in-hospital mortality (9.5% vs 1.3%, p < 0.01), increased prolonged admissions (62.2% versus 47.1%, p = 0.03) and increased rebleeding (17.6% vs 7.8%, p = 0.03), compared with patients with normal Vitamin C levels. Multivariate logistic regression models showed that VCD was independently associated with the composite endpoint of AE. Conclusion: VCD is highly prevalent in patients with UGIB and associated with poorer outcomes, including higher mortality, rebleeding and length of stay. Interventional studies are required to determine the impact of early Vitamin C supplementation on clinical outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-322
Number of pages10
JournalAlimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023


  • ascorbic acid
  • peptic ulcer disease
  • upper gastrointestinal bleeding
  • varices
  • vitamin C

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