Strong parent-child correlation in circulating vitamin B12 levels and its association with inflammatory markers in Saudi families

Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 2020 Oct;90(5-6):430-438. doi: 10.1024/0300-9831/a000585. Epub 2019 Apr 1.


Vitamin B12 deficiency leads to adverse effects on human health, but limited information is available as to whether abnormal vitamin B12 levels are associated between parents and offspring. The present study aimed to assess the association between circulating levels of vitamin B12 in Saudi parents and their children as well as its association with pro-inflammatory markers. A total of 104 Saudi families: 49 fathers, 63 mothers, 94 sons and 79 daughters were selected for the study. Fasting blood samples and anthropometrics were collected. Biochemical parameters, various pro-inflammatory markers and vitamin B12 were measured. Results showed a significant positive correlation between B12 levels in most parent-offspring pairs: mother-daughter (N = 46 pairs, r = 0.72, p < 0.0001); father-daughter (N = 39, r = 0.62, p < 0.0001) and mother-son (N = 51, r = 0.42, p < 0.01). This association was absent in father-son pairs (N = 48, r = 0.26, p = 0.09). Also, B12 was inversely associated with tumor necrosis factor-α and plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 in parents (r = -0.32; p < 0.01 and r = -0.31; p < 0.01 respectively) and children (r = -0.14; p < 0.01 and r = -0.19; p < 0.01 respectively). A significant inverse correlation was found between vitamin B12 and leptin in mothers (r = -0.31, p < 0.05). Our study suggests a strong familial component between B12 levels indicating a possible genetic influence on individual B12 status. Our study also suggests an inverse correlation between circulating levels of vitamin B12 and pro-inflammatory markers. The present study highlights the importance of extending screening in families of patients with abnormal B12 levels and expanding treatment, if necessary, to maximize clinical benefits.

Keywords: Cardiometabolic risk; Parent-child correlation; Plasminogen activator inhibitor; Tumor necrosis factor; inflammatory markers; vitamin B12.

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Parents
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Vitamin B 12 / metabolism
  • Vitamin B 12 Deficiency*


  • Biomarkers
  • Vitamin B 12