Plasma total homocysteine, folate, and vitamin B12 status in Korean adults.J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo) 2002; 48(4):290-7JN
Elevated plasma total homocysteine (tHcy) levels have been established as a risk factor for occlusive cardiovascular disease. Also known is that plasma folate and vitamin B12 influence homocysteine metabolism as cosubstrate and cofactor, respectively. However, not much information is available describing plasma tHcy levels and their relationship to plasma folate and vitamin B12 status in Koreans. We measured the plasma levels of tHcy, folate, and vitamin B12 in 195 adults (99 males, 96 females; 23-72 y old in the lower middle class). The mean plasma tHcy levels of males, 11.18 +/- 3.88 micromol/L, was significantly higher (p < 0.001) than that of females, 9.20 +/- 2.65 micromol/L. The distribution of tHcy levels of males showed a wide range, 3-50 micromol/L, with a long tail toward higher values. Thus the incidence of hyperhomocysteinemia (> or = 5 micromol/L) in males, 10.1%, was significantly higher (< 0.02) than the 2.1% in females. As age increased, plasma tHcy levels tended to be higher in females. Therefore, sex differences in plasma tHcy levels disappeared in subjects over fifty. On the other hand, both plasma folate (6.47 +/- 3.06 vs 7.96 +/- 3.55 ng/mL, p < 0.01) and vitamin B12 levels (537.0 +/- 222.0 vs. 664.1 +/- 309.8 ng/mL, p < 0.01) were significantly lower in males than in females. A plasma folate deficiency (< 3.0 ng/mL) was found in 6.1% of males and 2.1% of females. And a vitamin B12 deficiency (< 150 pg/mL) was detected in 2.0% and 1.0%, respectively. Plasma tHcy levels were related with inversely plasma concentrations of folate (r = -0.37249, p < 0.001) as well as vitamin B12 (r = -0.22560, p < 0.01) in both sexes. Plasma levels of tHcy and the prevalence of hyperhomocysteinemia in Korean adults are similar to findings in the West. Our results indicate that male adults may be in worse condition for cardiovascular disease (CVD) than females. And improving folate and vitamin B12 status may reduce plasma tHcy level, which may be more important in males.