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Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Dec;90(6):1586-92. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2009.27514. Epub 2009 Sep 2.

Metabolic evidence of vitamin B-12 deficiency, including high homocysteine and methylmalonic acid and low holotranscobalamin, is more pronounced in older adults with elevated plasma folate.

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  • 1School of Medicine, Department of Medical Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

An analysis of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey indicated that in older adults exposed to folic acid fortification, the combination of low serum vitamin B-12 and elevated folate is associated with higher concentrations of homocysteine and methylmalonic acid and higher odds ratios for cognitive impairment and anemia than the combination of low vitamin B-12 and nonelevated folate. These findings await confirmation in other populations.

OBJECTIVE:

The purpose was to compare metabolic indicators of vitamin B-12 status, cognitive function, and depressive symptoms among elderly Latinos with elevated and nonelevated plasma folate.

DESIGN:

Cross-sectional data were analyzed for 1535 subjects (age: >or=60 y) from the Sacramento Area Latino Study on Aging. Subjects were divided into 4 groups on the basis of plasma vitamin B-12 (< or >or=148 pmol/L) and folate (<or= or >45.3 nmol/L). Homocysteine, methylmalonic acid, holotranscobalamin, ratio of holotranscobalamin to vitamin B-12, Modified Mini-Mental State Examination, delayed recall, and depressive symptom scores were compared between the groups.

RESULTS:

Individuals with low vitamin B-12 and elevated folate (n = 22) had the highest concentrations of homocysteine and methylmalonic acid and the lowest concentration of holotranscobalamin and ratio of holotranscobalamin to vitamin B-12 when compared with all other groups (P <or= 0.003). No differences in Modified Mini-Mental State Examination, delayed recall, and depressive symptom scores were observed between the low vitamin B-12 and elevated-folate group compared with other groups.

CONCLUSIONS:

Low vitamin B-12 is associated with more pronounced metabolic evidence of vitamin B-12 deficiency when folate is elevated than when folate is not elevated. These data should be considered when assessing the potential costs, risks, and benefits of folic acid and vitamin B-12 fortification programs.

PMID:
19726595
PMCID:
PMC2777470
DOI:
10.3945/ajcn.2009.27514
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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