Coffee consumption and circulating B-vitamins in healthy middle-aged men and women

Clin Chem. 2008 Sep;54(9):1489-96. doi: 10.1373/clinchem.2008.103465. Epub 2008 Jul 7.


Background: Coffee consumption has been associated with several risk factors for coronary heart disease, including increased cholesterol, increased blood pressure, and increased plasma total homocysteine (tHcy). tHcy is determined by several B-vitamins. However, reports about the association between coffee intake and B-vitamin status are few.

Methods: We measured plasma B-vitamins and tHcy in a cohort of 10,601 healthy, middle-aged Norwegian men and women. Information about lifestyle factors, including coffee consumption, smoking, alcohol use, height, and weight, was obtained by interview.

Results: Coffee consumption was dose-dependently associated with reduced plasma B-vitamin concentrations. Compared with coffee abstainers, individuals drinking >or=4 cups/day had 11.7% (P < 0.001), 14.1% (P < 0.001), and 5.5% (P = 0.01) lower plasma concentrations of folate, pyridoxal phosphate, and riboflavin, respectively, and the mean tHcy concentration was 6.8% (P < 0.001) higher. Quantile regression analysis showed essentially no difference in B-vitamin concentrations between coffee consumption categories at low vitamin concentrations but a progressive increase in the difference at higher concentrations. This pattern of differences (effect profile) was found independently of smoking status, alcohol intake, and sex. The decrease in folate explained approximately half of the increase in tHcy.

Conclusions: Coffee consumption was associated with reduced circulating B-vitamin concentrations. The observed effect profiles indicated that coffee consumption preferentially affected the upper, but not the lower, part of the B-vitamin concentration distributions. We hypothesize that coffee consumption may increase the loss of surplus B-vitamins by excretion in urine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Body Mass Index
  • Coffee*
  • Female
  • Folic Acid / blood
  • Health*
  • Homocysteine / blood
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Vitamin B Complex / blood*
  • Vitamin B Complex / urine


  • Coffee
  • Homocysteine
  • Vitamin B Complex
  • Folic Acid