Transition from a hunter-gatherer to a settled lifestyle in the !Kung San: effect on iron, folate, and vitamin B12 nutrition

Am J Clin Nutr. 1984 Dec;40(6):1295-303. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/40.6.1295.


In 1969 a group of hunter-gatherer San were studied (Am J Clin Nutr 1971;24:229-42). Their state of hematological nutrition was excellent with a negligible incidence of iron, folate, or vitamin B12 deficiency. A genetically and linguistically similar San community who have been settled for the past 15 yr were the subjects of the present study. Anemia, due in the main to iron and/or folate deficiency, has become more common. Alcoholism has become rife in both sexes and all age groups. Our findings show that a settled lifestyle has resulted in a significant deterioration in the San's hematological nutrition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alkaline Phosphatase / blood
  • Anemia / epidemiology
  • Botswana
  • Child
  • Ethnicity*
  • Female
  • Folic Acid / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Iron / metabolism*
  • Lactation
  • Life Style*
  • Male
  • Menopause
  • Middle Aged
  • Namibia
  • Parasitic Diseases / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Social Change*
  • Vitamin B 12 / metabolism*
  • gamma-Glutamyltransferase / blood


  • Folic Acid
  • Iron
  • gamma-Glutamyltransferase
  • Alkaline Phosphatase
  • Vitamin B 12