Serum Vitamin B12, C and Folate Concentrations in the New Mexico Elder Health Survey

Robert D. Lindeman, MD, FACN, Linda J. Romero, MD, Kathleen M. Koehler, PhD, MPH, FACN, Hwa Chi Liang, MA, Asenath LaRue, PhD, Richard N. Baumgartner, PhD, and Philip J.Garry, PhD, FACN

Department of Internal Medicine (R.D.L., R.N.B.), Department of Family and Community Medicine (L.J.R.), Clinical Nutrition Program, Center for Population Health (K.M.K., H.C.L.), Department of Psychiatry (A.L.), Department of Pathology (P.J.G.), University of New Mexico School of Medicine, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Objectives: 1) To compare serum vitamin B12, C and folate concentrations in a randomly selected sample of elderly (age 65 years or older) male and female Hispanics and nonHispanic whites (NHW) and 2) to examine associations between serum B12, C and folate concentrations compared to measures of cognitive and affective (depression) functions.

Methods: Equal numbers of male and female Hispanics and NHW were randomly sampled from the Health Care Financing Administration (Medicare) registrant list for Bernalillo County, New Mexico, and asked to volunteer for a paid home interview followed by a paid comprehensive interview/examination covering health and health-related issues. In addition to serum determinations of B12, C and folate, associations were examined between these vitamins and measures of cognitive and affective functions.

Results: Males and Hispanics had lower serum vitamin B12, C and folate concentrations than females and NHW respectively. Participants taking a multivitamin supplement (MVI) had higher serum vitamin concentrations than those not taking MVI. There were significant associations between serum folate concentrations and measures of cognitive function, not seen with B12 or C, nor between any of the vitamins and affective function.

Conclusions: Hispanics, even after adjustments for gender, age, vitamin supplementation, vitamin content of dietary foods, education and household income, had lower serum concentrations of B12, C and folate than NHW. The most significant associations observed were those between serum folate and various measures of cognitive function, even after adjusting for presence of depression.

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