Background: Aging is associated with a progressive decline in vitamin B-12 status. Overt vitamin B-12 deficiency causes neurologic disturbances in peripheral and central motor and sensory systems, but the public health impact for neurologic disease of moderately low vitamin B-12 status in older people is unclear. Evidence from observational studies is limited by heterogeneity in the definition of vitamin B-12 status and imprecise measures of nerve function.
Objective: We aimed to determine whether vitamin B-12 status is associated with electrophysiologic indexes of peripheral or central neurologic function in asymptomatic older people with moderately low vitamin B-12 status.
Design: We used a cross-sectional analysis of baseline data from the Older People and Enhanced Neurological Function study conducted in Southeast England. This trial investigated the effectiveness of vitamin B-12 supplementation on electrophysiologic indexes of neurologic function in asymptomatic older people (mean age: 80 y) with moderately low vitamin B-12 status (serum vitamin B-12 concentrations ≥107 and <210 pmol/L without anemia, n = 201). Vitamin B-12 status was assessed with the use of total vitamin B-12, holotranscobalamin, and a composite indicator of vitamin B-12 status (cB-12). Electrophysiologic measures of sensory and motor components of peripheral and central nerve function were assessed in all participants by a single observer.
Results: In multivariate models, there was no evidence of an association of vitamin B-12, holotranscobalamin, or cB-12 with any nerve conduction outcome. There was also no evidence of an association of vitamin B-12 status with clinical markers of neurologic function.
Conclusion: This secondary analysis of high-quality trial data did not show any association of any measure of vitamin B-12 status with either peripheral or central neurologic function or any clinical markers of neurologic function in older people with moderately low vitamin B-12 status. The results of this study are unlikely to be generalizable to a less healthy older population with more severe vitamin B-12 deficiency. This trial was registered at www.controlled-trials.com as ISRCTN54195799.
Keywords: central nerve conduction; neurologic; older people; peripheral conduction; vitamin B-12.
© 2016 American Society for Nutrition.