While vitamin C is mainly known as an immunity-enhancing antioxidant, a new study from Denmark has found that babies deficient in the vitamin may be at an elevated risk for mental development and memory problems.
Scientists from the Faculty of Life Sciences at the University of Copenhagen demonstrated that guinea pigs with moderate vitamin C deficiency develop 30 percent fewer hippocampal neurons, a type of brain cells, and have significantly worse spatial memory than those fed a normal diet.
The researchers chose guinea pigs for the study because, just like humans, they depend on getting vitamin C through their diet.
Professor Jens Lykkesfeldt, who led the research group, said that the research suggests children may also be at risk of learning disabilities if they receive insufficient levels of vitamin C in early life.
"This is unbearable when it would be so easy to prevent this deficiency by giving a vitamin supplement to high-risk pregnant women and new mothers," he adds.
Vitamin C is widely available as a nutritional supplement in health stores or via alternative medicine websites.