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Ann Clin Biochem. 1978 Nov;15(6):307-12.

Detection and incidence of B and C vitamin deficiency in alcohol-related illness.


The activity of the red blood cell enzymes transketolase, glutathione reductase, and aspartate transaminase, and their activation by the coenzymes thiamine, riboflavin, and pyridoxine, the pyruvate tolerance test, the leucocyte vitamin C concentration, and the activity in serum of gamma-glutamyl transferase were measured in a series of 35 patients with alcohol-related illness. The incidence of thiamine deficiency was 31% as assessed by the activation of transketolase, and 55% as assessed by the pyruvate tolerance test. The incidence of riboflavin deficiency was 23% and of ascorbic acid deficiency 91%. No cases of pyridoxine deficiency were detected. The pyruvate tolerance test was found to be a more sensitive test of thiamine deficiency than the transketolase activation, and the activation of red blood cell aspartate transaminase was found to be a poor indicator of pyridoxine deficiency. There was a poor correlation of the gamma-glutamyl transferase activity with the degree of vitamin deficiency, suggesting that alcohol exposure is only partly responsible for the observed vitamin deficiency.

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