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Folate–vitamin B-12 interaction in relation to cognitive impairment, anemia, and biochemical indicators of vitamin B-12 deficiency

By Jacob Selhub, Martha Savaria Morris, Paul F Jacques and Irwin H Rosenberg

Abstract

Previous reports on pernicious anemia treatment suggested that high folic acid intake adversely influences the natural history of vitamin B-12 deficiency, which affects many elderly individuals. However, experimental investigation of this hypothesis is unethical, and the few existing observational data are inconclusive. With the use of data from the 1999–2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), we evaluated the interaction between high serum folate and low vitamin B-12 status [ie, plasma vitamin B-12 < 148 pmol/L or methylmalonic acid (MMA) > 210 nmol/L] with respect to anemia and cognitive impairment. With subjects having both plasma folate ≤ 59 nmol/L and normal vitamin B-12 status as the referent category, odds ratios for the prevalence of anemia compared with normal hemoglobin concentration and impaired compared with unimpaired cognitive function were 2.1 (95% CI: 1.1, 3.7) and 1.7 (95% CI: 1.01, 2.9), respectively, for those with low vitamin B-12 status but normal serum folate and 4.9 (95% CI: 2.3, 10.6) and 5.0 (95% CI: 2.7, 9.5), respectively, for those with low vitamin B-12 status and plasma folate >59 nmol/L. Among subjects with low vitamin B-12 status, mean circulating vitamin B-12 was 228 pmol/L for the normal-folate subgroup and 354 pmol/L for the high-folate subgroup. We subsequently showed increases in circulating homocysteine and MMA concentrations with increasing serum folate among NHANES participants with serum vitamin B-12 < 148 pmol/L, whereas the opposite trends occurred among subjects with serum vitamin B-12 ≥ 148 pmol/L. These interactions, which were not seen in NHANES III before fortification, imply that, in vitamin B-12 deficiency, high folate status is associated with impaired activity of the 2 vitamin B-12–dependent enzymes, methionine synthase and MMA–coenzyme A mutase

Topics: Supplement: Is It Time for Mandatory Vitamin B-12 Fortification in Flour?
Publisher: American Society for Nutrition
OAI identifier: oai:pubmedcentral.nih.gov:2647758
Provided by: PubMed Central
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