Prevalence of low serum folate and vitamin B12 in an older Australian population

Aust N Z J Public Health. 2006 Feb;30(1):38-41. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-842x.2006.tb00084.x.


Objective: To examine the prevalence of low serum folate and vitamin B12, in association with elevated serum homocysteine, in a representative sample of older Australians.

Methods: During 1997-2000, 3,508 persons aged 50+ years were examined in a population-based cohort study conducted in two postcodes, west of Sydney, Australia. Of these, 2,901 participants (82.7%) provided fasting blood for estimates of serum folate, vitamin B12 and total homocysteine.

Results: Low serum B12 (< 185 pmol/L) was found in 22.9% of participants and low serum folate (< 6.8 nmol/L) in 2.3% of participants. Among those people with very low serum vitamin B12 (< 125 pmol/L) and low serum folate, 51% had elevated homocysteine.

Conclusions: Low serum levels of vitamin B12 and elevated serum homocysteine are relatively frequent in older Australians.

Implications: Appropriate public health action should be considered to reduce the prevalence of low serum vitamin B12 and elevated homocysteine in older Australians.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Australia
  • Female
  • Folic Acid Deficiency / blood*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Population Surveillance
  • Prevalence
  • Vitamin B 12 Deficiency / blood*