This investigation aims to explore the association among anemia and vitamins A, C, and folate deficiencies in a probabilistic sample of Mexican children.
Data on hemoglobin, serum vitamins A and C and folate concentrations and percent transferrin saturation (PTS) in children 0.5-11 years (n = 1,770) were extracted from the database of the probabilistic Mexican National Nutrition Survey 1999 (NNS-99).
Overall, 16.6% of children were anemic. Iron deficiency children with or without anemia had more frequent low serum retinol (40.6 vs. 16% and 27.7 vs. 11.9%, p < 0.05, respectively) and lower hemoglobin folate (11.5 vs. 22%, p < 0.05) than their non-iron deficiency counterparts. Mean concentrations of serum iron (p < 0.01), folate (p < 0.001) and retinol (p < 0.0001), but not ascorbic acid (p < 0.6), were significantly lower in anemic than in nonanemic children. In a linear regression model, 15% of hemoglobin variation in children was explained by retinol, folate and PTS, but not vitamin C (p <0.0001).
Anemia was mostly associated with iron deficiency and with a lesser proportion of folate and vitamin A deficiencies. Vitamin A deficiency might be overestimated since iron deficiency may lower serum retinol concentrations. Interventions aimed to reduce anemia in this population must consider interactions between those micronutrients in designing strategies.