Effect of physiological doses of oral vitamin B12 on plasma homocysteine: a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial in India

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2010 May;64(5):495-502. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2010.15. Epub 2010 Mar 10.


Background/objectives: Vitamin B(12) (B(12)) deficiency is common in Indians and a major contributor to hyperhomocysteinemia, which may influence fetal growth, risk of type II diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The purpose of this paper was to study the effect of physiological doses of B(12) and folic acid on plasma total homocysteine (tHcy) concentration.

Subjects/methods: A cluster randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, 2 x 3 factorial trial, using the family as the randomization unit. B(12) was given as 2 or 10 microg capsules, with or without 200 microg folic acid, forming six groups (B(0)F(0), B(2)F(0), B(10)F(0), B(0)F(200), B(2)F(200) and B(10)F(200)). Plasma tHcy concentration was measured before and after 4 and 12 months of supplementation.

Results: From 119 families in the Pune Maternal Nutrition Study, 300 individuals were randomized. There was no interaction between B(12) and folic acid (P=0.14) in relation to tHcy concentration change and their effects were analyzed separately: B(0) vs. B(2) vs. B(10); and F(0) vs. F(200). At 12 months, tHcy concentration reduced by a mean 5.9 (95% CI: -7.8, -4.1) micromol/l in B(2), and by 7.1 (95% CI: -8.9, -5.4) micromol/l in B(10), compared to nonsignificant rise of 1.2 (95% CI: -0.5, 2.9) micromol/l in B(0). B(2) and B(10) did not differ significantly. In F(200), tHcy concentration decreased by 4.8 (95% CI: -6.3, -3.3) micromol/l compared to 2.8 (95% CI: -4.3, -1.2) micromol/l in F(0).

Conclusion: Daily oral supplementation with physiological doses of B(12) is an effective community intervention to reduce tHcy. Folic acid (200 microg per day) showed no additional benefit, neither had any unfavorable effects.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Family
  • Female
  • Folic Acid / pharmacology
  • Folic Acid / therapeutic use*
  • Homocysteine / blood*
  • Humans
  • Hyperhomocysteinemia / blood
  • Hyperhomocysteinemia / drug therapy*
  • Hyperhomocysteinemia / etiology
  • India
  • Male
  • Vitamin B 12 / pharmacology
  • Vitamin B 12 / therapeutic use*
  • Vitamin B 12 Deficiency / blood
  • Vitamin B 12 Deficiency / complications
  • Vitamin B 12 Deficiency / drug therapy*
  • Vitamin B Complex / pharmacology
  • Vitamin B Complex / therapeutic use*


  • Homocysteine
  • Vitamin B Complex
  • Folic Acid
  • Vitamin B 12