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The distribution of serum folate concentration and red blood cell indices in alcoholics.

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Department of Biochemical Diagnostics, Medical University of Bialystok, Bialystok, Poland.


Chronic alcohol consumption leads to malnutrition and to the deficiency of many vitamins. One of the most important is folate deficiency. Folate deficiency disrupts the process of hematopoiesis, which can be evaluated by the changes of red cell indices. The aim of this study was to determine the hematological disturbances by the measurement of red blood cell indices in a Polish population of chronic alcoholics according to folate status. We studied 80 consecutive chronic alcoholic men and 30 healthy controls. Patients were divided into 2 groups according to the folate concentration. The serum folate and vitamin B12 concentration and the blood count were determined. We have shown that the serum folate concentration was decreased in 40% of alcoholics, but there was no folate deficiency and the level of vitamin B12 was normal. There was no correlation between folate, vitamin B12 and hematological indices. We have observed that most hematological parameters (Hb, RBCs, and Hct) in alcoholics were decreased and only two of them (MCV and MCHC) were increased in comparison with the controls. We observed no significant correlation between the RBCs indices and the weekly alcohol intake, but the correlation between RBCs, Hb, Hct and the duration of dependence have been shown. We concluded that, there is no folate deficiency in the Polish alcoholic population but the abusers with low folate levels may already have some RBCs indices affected. It means that the Polish alcoholic population consumes a sufficient amount of vitamins, which prevents the occurrence of hematological disturbances.

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