Vitamin B12 intake and related biomarkers: Associations in a Dutch elderly population

J. P. van Wijngaarden*, R. A.M. Dhonukshe-Rutten, E. M. Brouwer-Brolsma, A. W. Enneman, K. M.A. Swart, S. C. van Dijk, P. H. In ’T Veld, N. M. van Schoor, N. van der Velde, R. de Jonge, P. Lips, A. G. Uitterlinden, L. C.P.G.M. de Groot

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Vitamin B12 status is measured by four plasma/serum biomarkers: total vitamin B12 (total B12), holotranscobalamin (holoTC), methylmalonic acid (MMA) and homocysteine (tHcy). Associations of B12 intake with holoTC and tHcy and associations between all four biomarkers have not been extensively studied. A better insight in these associations may contribute to an improved differentiation between vitamin B12 deficiency and a normal vitamin B12 status. Objective: This study investigates associations between vitamin B12 intake and biomarkers and associations between biomarkers. Design: In this cross-sectional observational study, levels of total B12, HoloTC, MMA and tHcy were determined in participants of the B-PROOF study: 2919 elderly people (≥65 years, with a mean age of 74.1 years, a mean BMI of 27.1 and 50% women) with elevated tHcy levels (≥12 μmol/L). B12 intake was assessed in a subsample. We assessed the association between intake and status with multivariate regression analysis. We explored the dose-response association between B12 intake and biomarkers and the association of total B12 and holoTC with tHcy and MMA with restricted cubic spline plots. Results: A doubling of B12 intake was associated with 9% higher total B12, 15% higher HoloTC, 9% lower MMA and 2% lower tHcy. Saturation of biomarkers occurs with dietary intakes of >5 μg B12. Spline regression showed that levels of MMA and tHcy started to rise when vitamin B12 levels fall below 330 pmol/L and with HoloTC levels below 100 pmol/L, with a sharp increase with levels of B12 and HoloTC below 220 and 50 pmol/L respectively. Conclusions: In this study we observed a significant association between vitamin B12 intake and vitamin B12 biomarkers and between the biomarkers. The observed inflections for total B12 and holoTC with MMA and tHcy could indicate cut-off levels for further testing for B12 deficiency and determining subclinical B12 deficiency.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1268-12-76
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Nutrition, Health and Aging
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017

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