Foods contributing to vitamin B6, folate, and vitamin B12 intakes and biomarkers status in European adolescents: The HELENA study

Eur J Nutr. 2017 Jun;56(4):1767-1782. doi: 10.1007/s00394-016-1221-1. Epub 2016 May 25.


Purpose: To examine the association between food groups consumption and vitamin B6, folate and B12 intakes and biomarkers in adolescents.

Methods: In total 2189 individuals participating in the cross-sectional Healthy Lifestyle in Europe by Nutrition in Adolescence study met the eligibility criteria for analysis of dietary intakes (46 % males) and 632 for biomarker analysis (47 % males). Food intakes were assessed by two non-consecutive 24-h recalls. Biomarkers were measured by chromatography and immunoassay. Food groups which best discriminated participants in the extreme tertiles of the distribution of vitamins were identified by discriminant analyses. Food groups with standardised canonical coefficients higher or equal to 0.3 were selected as valid discriminators of vitamins intake and biomarkers extreme tertiles. Linear mixed model elucidated the association between food groups and vitamins intakes and biomarkers.

Results: Vitamin B6 intakes and biomarkers were best discriminated by meat (males and females), margarine and mixed origin lipids only in males and breakfast cereals (females). Breakfast cereals (males), and fruits, margarine and mixed origin lipids, vegetables excluding potatoes, breakfast cereals, and soups/bouillon (females) determined the most folate intakes and biomarkers. Considering vitamin B12 intakes and biomarkers, meat, and white and butter milk (males and females), snacks (males), and dairy products (females) best discriminated individual in the extremes of the distribution. Fewer associations were obtained with mixed model for biomarkers than for vitamins intakes with food groups.

Conclusions: Whereas B-vitamin intakes were associated with their food sources, biomarkers did with overall food consumption. Low-nutrient-density foods may compromise adolescents' vitamin status.

Keywords: Adolescents; B-vitamins; Foods contributors.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Biomarkers / blood*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet
  • Europe
  • Female
  • Folic Acid / administration & dosage*
  • Folic Acid / blood
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Nutrition Assessment
  • Nutritional Status
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Vitamin B 12 / administration & dosage*
  • Vitamin B 12 / blood
  • Vitamin B 6 / administration & dosage*
  • Vitamin B 6 / blood


  • Biomarkers
  • Vitamin B 6
  • Folic Acid
  • Vitamin B 12