Also see Nutrition: Exotic and Zoo Animals.
All laboratory primates are susceptible to vitamin C deficiency. Hypovitaminosis C may cause immunosuppression and increase susceptibility to infectious diseases before clinical signs of the deficiency appear. Commercial monkey diets contain vitamin C that is stable for 3 mo after the diet is milled and packaged, if properly stored. Supplemental sources are green leafy vegetables and citrus fruits. Orally administered pediatric vitamin preparations that contain ascorbic acid are readily accepted. Daily intake of vitamin C at 3–6 mg/kg prevents scurvy. Scurvy should be treated with ascorbic acid at dosages of 25–50 mg/kg daily until clinical signs resolve and dietary consumption of adequate vitamin C is restored. Primates require vitamin D to prevent rickets and osteomalacia. Asian and African primates can use provitamin D2 (in plant materials); Central and South American primates cannot and require provitamin D3. Fish-liver oils provide an adequate source of D3, or as little as 1.25 IU/g of diet can be added to the ration. Exposure of monkeys to sunlight facilitates conversion of vitamin D to active forms. Without adequate D3, New World primates may develop osteodystrophia fibrosa (see Dystrophies Associated with Calcium, Phosphorus, and Vitamin D: Fibrous Osteodystrophy).
Last full review/revision July 2011 by Nicholas W. Lerche, DVM, MPVM