Oral vitamin B12 supplementation reduces plasma total homocysteine concentration in women in India.Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 2007; 16(1):103-9AP
People in India have a high prevalence of low vitamin B12 status and high plasma total homocysteine (tHcy) concentrations. In a proof of principle trial, we studied the effect of oral vitamin B12 (500 microg) and/or 100 g cooked green leafy vegetables (GLV) every alternate day in a 2x2 factorial design over a 6-week period. Forty-two non-pregnant vegetarian women (age 20-50 years) were randomly allocated to four study groups. Clinical measurements were made at the beginning and at the end of the study, and blood samples were collected before, and 2 and 6 weeks after commencement of intervention. Forty women completed the trial. Twenty-six women had low vitamin B12 status (<150 pmol/L) and 24 had hyperhomocysteinemia (>15 micromol/L). GLV supplementation did not alter plasma folate or tHcy. Vitamin B12 supplementation increased plasma vitamin B12 concentration (125 to 215 pmol/L, p <0.05) and reduced tHcy concentration (18.0 to 13.0 micromol/L, p <0.05) within first 2 weeks, both of which remained stable for the next 4 weeks. Plasma vitamin B12 and tHcy concentrations did not change in those who did not receive vitamin B12, and there was no change in plasma folate concentration in any of the groups. Blood haemoglobin concentration increased marginally within first two weeks in those women who received vitamin B12 (by 3 g/L, p <0.05) and the number of women with macrocytosis decreased from 2 to zero. There was no change in vibration sensory threshold during the period of the study. High-dose per oral vitamin B12 supplementation significantly reduced plasma tHcy within 2 weeks but did not achieve normal plasma tHcy concentration even after 6 weeks. People in India have a high prevalence of low vitamin B12 status and high plasma total homocysteine (tHcy) concentrations.