Document Detail

How common is vitamin B-12 deficiency?
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  19116323     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
In considering the vitamin B-12 fortification of flour, it is important to know who is at risk of vitamin B-12 deficiency and whether those individuals would benefit from flour fortification. This article reviews current knowledge of the prevalence and causes of vitamin B-12 deficiency and considers whether fortification would improve the status of deficient subgroups of the population. In large surveys in the United States and the United Kingdom, approximately 6% of those aged > or =60 y are vitamin B-12 deficient (plasma vitamin B-12 < 148 pmol/L), with the prevalence of deficiency increasing with age. Closer to 20% have marginal status (plasma vitamin B-12: 148-221 pmol/L) in later life. In developing countries, deficiency is much more common, starting in early life and persisting across the life span. Inadequate intake, due to low consumption of animal-source foods, is the main cause of low serum vitamin B-12 in younger adults and likely the main cause in poor populations worldwide; in most studies, serum vitamin B-12 concentration is correlated with intake of this vitamin. In older persons, food-bound cobalamin malabsorption becomes the predominant cause of deficiency, at least in part due to gastric atrophy, but it is likely that most elderly can absorb the vitamin from fortified food. Fortification of flour with vitamin B-12 is likely to improve the status of most persons with low stores of this vitamin. However, intervention studies are still needed to assess efficacy and functional benefits of increasing intake of the amounts likely to be consumed in flour, including in elderly persons with varying degrees of gastric atrophy.
Lindsay H Allen
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Review     Date:  2008-12-30
Journal Detail:
Title:  The American journal of clinical nutrition     Volume:  89     ISSN:  1938-3207     ISO Abbreviation:  Am. J. Clin. Nutr.     Publication Date:  2009 Feb 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2009-01-19     Completed Date:  2009-02-11     Revised Date:  2009-05-15    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0376027     Medline TA:  Am J Clin Nutr     Country:  United States    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  693S-6S     Citation Subset:  AIM; IM    
US Department of Agriculture, ARS Western Human Nutrition Research Center, University of California, Davis, Davis, CA 95616, USA.
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MeSH Terms
Age Factors
Aged, 80 and over
Aging / blood*
Biological Availability
Food, Fortified*
Intestinal Absorption
Middle Aged
Nutritional Requirements*
Nutritional Status
Vitamin B 12 / administration & dosage*,  pharmacokinetics
Vitamin B 12 Deficiency / epidemiology*,  etiology,  prevention & control
Young Adult
Reg. No./Substance:
68-19-9/Vitamin B 12

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

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