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Nutrition. 2019 Jul - Aug;63-64:106-113. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2019.01.017. Epub 2019 Jan 28.

Prevalence of vitamin deficiencies in an apparently healthy urban adult population: Assessed by subclinical status and dietary intakes.

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Division of Biochemistry, National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad, India.
Clinical Studies, National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad, India.
Community Studies, National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad, India.
Statistics, National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad, India.
Division of Biochemistry, National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad, India. Electronic address:



Studies in children and pregnant women consistently showed pandemic proportions of micronutrient deficiencies in the Indian subcontinent. However, vitamin deficiencies in apparently healthy adults are seldom recognized, hence the aim of this exploratory study was to assess their subclinical vitamin status and dietary intakes.


In all, 270 apparently healthy urban adults 30 to 70 y of age, from Hyderabad city, India participated in this study. Blood levels of vitamins (A, B1, B2, B6, total and active B12, D, and folate) and homocysteine were assessed. Anthropometric parameters were measured; dietary intake was obtained by food frequency questionnaire, and probability of adequacy (PA) was calculated by the estimated average requirement.


Among the study population, the overall prevalence of deficiency of vitamin B2 was strikingly high (50%) followed by the vitamins B6 (46%), active B12 (46%), total B12 (37%), folate (32%), D (29%), B1 (11%), and A (6%). Hyperhomocysteinemia (HHcys) was widely prevalent (52%) in the study participants. In case of dietary intakes, PA was lowest for vitamin B12 (4%) and folate (9%) followed by vitamins A (22%), B2 (33%), B6 (30%), and B1 (59%). The mean PA of these vitamins was noticeably low (28%). The unadjusted logistic regression analysis found men and those with a deficiency of folate and total and active B12 to be at higher risk for HHcys. In the adjusted model, the risk for active B12 deficiency almost doubled.


The study demonstrated a high prevalence of multiple subclinical vitamin deficiencies, dietary inadequacies, and HHcys, which are possible risk factors for disease burden among apparently healthy adults.


Dietary intake; Homocysteine; Micronutrients; Probability of adequacy; Vitamin deficiency


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