Vitamin B-12 status, particularly holotranscobalamin II and methylmalonic acid concentrations, and hyperhomocysteinemia in vegetarians – Recently Published Abstracts

Vitamin B-12 status, particularly holotranscobalamin II and methylmalonic acid concentrations, and hyperhomocysteinemia in vegetarians – Recently Published Abstracts – Author Abstract

W Herrmann

Herrmann W, Schorr H, Obeid, R, Geisel, J. Am J Clin Nutr 2003;78:131-136.

BACKGROUND: Vegetarians have a lower intake of vitamin B-12 than do omnivores. Early and reliable diagnosis of vitamin B-12 deficiency is very important. OBJECTIVE: The objective was to investigate vitamin B-12 status in vegetarians and nonvegetarians. DESIGN: The study cohort included 66 lactovegetarians or lactoovovegetarians (LV-LOV group), 29 vegans, and 79 omnivores. Total vitamin B 12, methylmalonic acid, holotranscobalamin II, and total homocysteine concentrations were assayed in serum. RESULTS: Of the 3 groups, the vegans had the lowest vitamin B-12 stares. In subjects who did not consume vitamins, low holotranscobalamin II ( 271 nmol/L) was found in 5% of the omnivores, 68% of the LV-LOV group, and 83% of the vegans.

Hyperhomocysteinemia (> 12 micromol/L) was present in 16% of the omnivores, 38% of the LV-LOV group, and 67% of the vegans. The correlation between holotranscobalamin II and vitamin B-12 was weak in the low serum vitamin B-12 range (r = 0.403) and strong in the high serum vitamin B-12 range (r = 0.769). Holotranscobalamin II concentration was the main determinant of total homocysteine concentration in the vegetarians (beta = 0.237, P 42.0 nmol/L). CONCLUSIONS: Vegan subjects and, to a lesser degree, subjects in the LV-LOV group had metabolic features indicating vitamin B-12 deficiency that led to a substantial increase in total homocysteine concentrations. Vitamin B-12 status should be monitored in vegetarians. Health aspects of vegetarianism should be considered in the light of possible damaging effects arising from vitamin B-12 deficiency and hyperhomocysteinemia.

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