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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Mineral and Vitamin Interventions for At-risk Populations

Location: Obesity and Metabolism Research Unit

Title: Folate, vitamin B12 and human health

Authors
item Brito, Alex -
item Hertrampf, Eva -
item Olivares, Manuel -
item Diego, Gaitan -
item Sanchez, Hugo -
item Uauy, Ricardo -
item Allen, Lindsay

Submitted to: Journal Revista Medica de Chile
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: March 19, 2012
Publication Date: March 19, 2012
Citation: Brito, A., Hertrampf, E., Olivares, M., Diego, G., Sanchez, H., Uauy, R., Allen, L.H. 2012. Folate, vitamin B12 and human health. Journal Revista Medica de Chile. 140:1464-1475.

Technical Abstract: During the past decade the role of folate and vitamin B12 in human nutrition have been under constant re-examination. Basic knowledge on the metabolism and interactions between these essential nutrients has expanded and multiple complexities have been unraveled. These micronutrients have shared functions and intertwined metabolic pathways that define the size of the “methyl donor” pool utilized in multiple metabolic pathways; these include DNA methylation and synthesis of nucleic acids. In Chile, folate deficiency is virtually nonexistent, while vitamin B12 deficiency affects approximately 10-25% depending on the cut-off value used to define deficiency. Folate is found naturally mainly in vegetables or added as folic acid to staple foods. Vitamin B12 in its natural form is present only in foods of animal origin, which is why deficit is more common among strict vegetarians and populations with a low intake of animal foods. Poor folate status in vulnerable women of childbearing age increases the risk of neural tube birth defects, so the critical time for the contribution of folic acid is several months before conception since neural tube closure occurs during the first weeks of life. The absorption of vitamin B12 from food is lower in older adults, who are considered to have higher risk of gastric mucosa atrophy, altered production of intrinsic factor and acid secretion. Deficiency of these vitamins is associated with hematological disorders. Vitamin B12 deficiency can also induce clinical and sub-clinical neurological and of other disorders. The purpose of this review is to provide an update on recent advances in the basic and applied knowledge of these vitamins relative to human health.

Last Modified: 9/20/2014
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