Objective: To evaluate the biopotency of the viable probiotic Lactobacillus acidophilus (La1) in yoghurt matrix consumed by Egyptian children on their plasma vitamin B12 and folate levels, and their metabolic markers methylmalonic acid (MMA) and total homocysteine (t-Hcy).
Methods: A randomized nutritional supplementation trial (42 days duration) was performed in free-living children of both sexes (11 years old). The La1 in yoghurt matrix was administered to provide 1012 colony-forming units/subject/day. Blood sampling for the analysis of plasma vitamin B12, folate and t-Hcy was performed by standardized methods. Five-hour urine collection was used for the analysis of MMA and t-Hcy.
Results: Initially 33.3% of the children presented with biochemical vitamin B12 deficiency (<208 pg/ml), while one-fifth (21%) were biochemically deficient in folate (<3 ng/ml folate/ml plasma or 0.68 nmol/l). Fifty percent of the children presented with high plasma t-Hcy (>15.0 micromol/l). The daily consumption of the probiotic La1 yoghurt for 42 days significantly improved the mean levels of plasma vitamin B12 (P<0.05) and folate (P<0.01) among the studied children compared with the respective baseline data. On the other hand, the average levels of plasma t-Hcy and urinary MMA decreased significantly (P<0.05) at the termination of the 42-day nutritional supplementation, compared with the respective initial mean levels. The consumption of the probiotic yoghurt was also associated with a significant (chi2=8.0; P<0.01) reduction in the percentage prevalence of anemia (hemoglobin <120 g/l).
Conclusion: The long-term ingestion of viable probiotic La1 potentially promoted the overall nutritional status of the studied children.