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Am J Clin Nutr. 1998 Aug;68(2):389-95.

Riboflavin and vitamin B-6 intakes and status and biochemical response to riboflavin supplementation in free-living elderly people.

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Human Nutrition Research Group, University of Ulster, Coleraine, Northern Ireland.


Free-living elderly people aged > or = 65 y were recruited to assess riboflavin and vitamin B-6 intakes and status and the effect of riboflavin supplementation on biochemical indicators of these 2 vitamins. The status of riboflavin (erythrocyte glutathione reductase activation coefficient; EGRAC) and vitamin B-6 (plasma pyridoxal-5'-phosphate; PLP) were determined in a total sample of 92 subjects, from whom dietary intake data were obtained by using the diet history method (n = 83). Although dietary intakes of both vitamins were considered to be adequate according to current reference values, abnormal EGRAC and plasma PLP values were identified in 49% and 38% of subjects, respectively, with 21% having suboptimal status for both nutrients. A subgroup of subjects from the initial sample (n = 45) was assigned in a double-blind manner to receive either 1.6 or 25 mg riboflavin or placebo daily for 12 wk. In those subjects with a baseline EGRAC or plasma PLP value falling outside the currently accepted threshold value for adequacy, low-dose riboflavin supplementation improved status of the limiting nutrient significantly (P<0.0001 and P = 0.020 for EGRAC and plasma PLP responses, respectively). We conclude that a high proportion of healthy elderly people may have suboptimal status for these nutrients despite apparently adequate dietary intakes. Furthermore, we showed that riboflavin supplementation at physiologic doses corrects biochemical abnormalities of not only EGRAC, but also plasma PLP, confirming the biochemical interdependency of these vitamins and suggesting that riboflavin is the limiting nutrient.

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