BOSTON (December 18, 2007) In a study of adults aged 20 and over, researchers at Tufts University showed that homocysteine and methylmalonic acid are at much higher levels in individuals who have a combination of vitamin B12 deficiency and high blood folate levels than in individuals who are also vitamin B12 deficient but have normal folate levels.
Homocysteine and methylmalonic acid, compounds used by enzymes that contain vitamin B12, accumulate in the blood in patients who are vitamin B12 deficient. Finding that the combination of high blood folate levels and low vitamin B12 status is associated with even higher levels of these compounds is a strong indication that the high folate is interfering with the action of these B12-containing enzymes, thus resulting in the exacerbation or worsening of the vitamin B12 deficiency, says corresponding author Jacob Selhub, Ph.D., director of the Vitamin Metabolism Laboratory at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University (USDA HNRCA).
In an earlier study, Selhub and co-authors Martha Savaria Morris, Ph.D., and Paul Jacques, D.Sc, also of the USDA HNRCA, have shown that the prevalence of anemia and cognitive impairment among U.S. elderly who are vitamin B12 deficient is much worse if this B12 deficiency is also accompanied by high blood folate rather than normal blood folate. This indicates that the worsening of the vitamin B12 deficiency, as indicated by higher homocysteine and methylmalonic acid due to high blood folate, is also manifested clinically through higher prevalence of anemia and cognitive impairment.
Results of the present study are published in the December 11 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Selhub and colleagues analyzed data from 10,413 adults who participated in two National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES). Slightly less than half of the participants (4,940) took part in phase 2 of the NHANE
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Tufts University, Health Sciences