Folate, vitamin B12 and vitamin D status in healthy and active home-dwelling people over 70 years

authored by
Felix Kerlikowsky, Jan Philipp Schuchardt, Andreas Hahn

Background: Ageing is characterised by physiological changes that can affect the nutrient availability and requirements. In particular, the status of vitamin D, cobalamin and folate has often been found to be critical in older people living in residential care. However, there is a lack of studies investigating the status of these nutrients in healthy and active home-dwelling elderly people. Methods: The aim of this cross-sectional study was to assess the status of vitamin D based on serum concentrations of 25-hydroxycholecalciferol [25-(OH)D], cobalamin based on serum concentrations of holotranscobalamin (holoTC) and folate based on red blood cell (RBC) folate in unsupplemented, healthy and active German home-dwelling subjects ≥ 70 years of age (n = 134, mean ± SD: 75.8 ± 4.5 years). Dietary intake was assessed by 3-day food recalls. The study was conducted between March and November of 2021 (during the COVID-19 pandemic). Results: The mean 25-(OH)D concentration was high at 85.1 ± 26.0 nmol/L, while the majority of women (92%) and men (94%) had 25-(OH)D concentrations ≥ 50 nmol/L. Less than 10% of men and women had 25-(OH)D concentrations < 50 nmol/L. The mean holoTC concentration was 88.9 ± 33.7 pmol/L (94.8 ± 34.6 pmol/L in women and 73.6 ± 25.6 in men). Only 8% of the women were cobalamin deficient (< 50 pmol/L holoTC) compared to 22% of the men. The mean RBC folate concentration was 831 ± 244 nmol/L, while the prevalence of folate deficiency was 10%. Linear regression analysis showed that only folate equivalent intake was associated with the relevant nutrient status marker. Conclusion: Our findings suggest that healthy, independently living older people with high levels of education, physical activity, and health awareness are not necessarily at higher risk of vitamin D, folate and cobalamin deficiency. Further studies are needed to verify these findings and to identify lifestyle and dietary patterns that can predict adequate nutrient status for healthy ageing. Trial registration: This study is officially recorded in the German Clinical Trials Register (DRKS00021302).

Institute of Food Science and Human Nutrition
Nutrition Physiology and Human Nutrition Section
BMC geriatrics
Publication date
Publication status
Peer reviewed
ASJC Scopus subject areas
Geriatrics and Gerontology
Electronic version(s) (Access: Open)