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1.  Comparison of two modes of vitamin B12 supplementation on neuroconduction and cognitive function among older people living in Santiago, Chile: a cluster randomized controlled trial. a study protocol [ISRCTN 02694183] 
Nutrition Journal  2011;10:100.
Background
Older people have a high risk of vitamin B12 deficiency; this can lead to varying degrees of cognitive and neurological impairment. CBL deficiency may present as macrocytic anemia, subacute combined degeneration of the spinal cord, or as neuropathy, but is often asymptomatic in older people. Less is known about subclinical vitamin B12 deficiency and concurrent neuroconduction and cognitive impairment. A Programme of Complementary Feeding for the Older Population (PACAM) in Chile delivers 2 complementary fortified foods that provide approximately 1.4 μg/day of vitamin B12 (2.4 μg/day elderly RDA). The aim of the present study is to assess whether supplementation with vitamin B12 will improve neuroconduction and cognitive function in older people who have biochemical evidence of vitamin B12 insufficiency in the absence of clinical deficiency.
Methods
We designed a cluster double-blind placebo-controlled trial involving community dwelling people aged 70-79 living in Santiago, Chile. We randomized 15 clusters (health centers) involving 300 people (20 per cluster). Each cluster will be randomly assigned to one of three arms: a) a 1 mg vitamin B12 pill taken daily and a routine PACAM food; b) a placebo pill and the milk-PACAM food fortified to provide 1 mg of vitamin B12; c) the routine PACAM food and a placebo pill.
The study has been designed as an 18 month follow up period. The primary outcomes assessed at baseline, 4, 9 and 18 months will be: serum levels of vitamin B12, neuroconduction and cognitive function.
Conclusions
In view of the high prevalence of vitamin B12 deficiency in later life, the present study has potential public health interest because since it will measure the impact of the existing program of complementary feeding as compared to two options that provide higher vitamin B12 intakes that might potentially may contribute in preserving neurophysiologic and cognitive function and thus improve quality of life for older people in Chile.
Trial registration
ISRCTN: ISRCTN02694183
doi:10.1186/1475-2891-10-100
PMCID: PMC3195703  PMID: 21952034
cobalamin; vitamin B12; cyanocobalamin; elderly; neurophysiology; cognitive disorders; nerve conduction; cluster randomized controlled trial; public health; Chile
2.  Vitamin K Supplementation in Postmenopausal Women with Osteopenia (ECKO Trial): A Randomized Controlled Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(10):1-12.
Background
Vitamin K has been widely promoted as a supplement for decreasing bone loss in postmenopausal women, but the long-term benefits and potential harms are unknown. This study was conducted to determine whether daily high-dose vitamin K1 supplementation safely reduces bone loss, bone turnover, and fractures.
Methods and Findings
This single-center study was designed as a 2-y randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial, extended for earlier participants for up to an additional 2 y because of interest in long-term safety and fractures. A total of 440 postmenopausal women with osteopenia were randomized to either 5 mg of vitamin K1 or placebo daily. Primary outcomes were changes in BMD at the lumbar spine and total hip at 2 y. Secondary outcomes included changes in BMD at other sites and other time points, bone turnover markers, height, fractures, adverse effects, and health-related quality of life. This study has a power of 90% to detect 3% differences in BMD between the two groups. The women in this study were vitamin D replete, with a mean serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D level of 77 nmol/l at baseline. Over 2 y, BMD decreased by −1.28% and −1.22% (p = 0.84) (difference of −0.06%; 95% confidence interval [CI] −0.67% to 0.54%) at the lumbar spine and −0.69% and −0.88% (p = 0.51) (difference of 0.19%; 95% CI −0.37% to 0.75%) at the total hip in the vitamin K and placebo groups, respectively. There were no significant differences in changes in BMD at any site between the two groups over the 2- to 4-y period. Daily vitamin K1 supplementation increased serum vitamin K1 levels by 10-fold, and decreased the percentage of undercarboxylated osteocalcin and total osteocalcin levels (bone formation marker). However, C-telopeptide levels (bone resorption marker) were not significantly different between the two groups. Fewer women in the vitamin K group had clinical fractures (nine versus 20, p = 0.04) and fewer had cancers (three versus 12, p = 0.02). Vitamin K supplements were well-tolerated over the 4-y period. There were no significant differences in adverse effects or health-related quality of life between the two groups. The study was not powered to examine fractures or cancers, and their numbers were small.
Conclusions
Daily 5 mg of vitamin K1 supplementation for 2 to 4 y does not protect against age-related decline in BMD, but may protect against fractures and cancers in postmenopausal women with osteopenia. More studies are needed to further examine the effect of vitamin K on fractures and cancers.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov (#NCT00150969) and Current Controlled Trials (#ISRCTN61708241)
Angela Cheung and colleagues investigate whether vitamin K1 can prevent bone loss among postmenopausal women with osteopenia.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Osteoporosis is a bone disease in which the bones gradually become less dense and more likely to break. In the US, 10 million people have osteoporosis and 18 million have osteopenia, a milder condition that precedes osteoporosis. In both conditions, insufficient new bone is made and/or too much old bone is absorbed. Although bone appears solid and unchanging, very little bone in the human body is more than 10 y old. Old bone is continually absorbed and new bone built using calcium, phosphorous, and proteins. Because the sex hormones control calcium and phosphorous deposition in the bones and thus bone strength, the leading cause of osteoporosis in women is reduced estrogen levels after menopause. In men, an age-related decline in testosterone levels can cause osteoporosis. Most people discover they have osteoporosis only when they break a bone, but the condition can be diagnosed and monitored using bone mineral density (BMD) scans. Treatments can slow down or reverse bone loss (antiresorptive therapies) and some (bone formation therapies) can even make bone and build bone tissue.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although regular exercise and a healthy diet can help to keep bones strong, other ways of preventing osteoporosis are badly needed. Recently, the lay media has promoted vitamin K supplements as a way to reduce bone loss in postmenopausal women. Vitamin K (which is found mainly in leafy green vegetables) is required for a chemical modification of proteins called carboxylation. This modification is essential for the activity of three bone-building proteins. In addition, there is some evidence that low bone density and fractures are associated with a low vitamin K intake. However, little is known about the long-term benefits or harms of vitamin K supplements. In this study, the researchers investigate whether a high-dose daily vitamin K supplement can safely reduce bone loss, bone turnover, and fractures in postmenopausal women with osteopenia in a randomized controlled trial called the “Evaluation of the Clinical Use of Vitamin K Supplementation in Post-Menopausal Women With Osteopenia” (ECKO) trial.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
In the study, 440 postmenopausal women with osteopenia were randomized to receive 5mg of vitamin K1 (the type of vitamin K in North American food; the recommended daily adult intake of vitamin K1 is about 0.1 mg) or an inactive tablet (placebo) daily for 2 y; 261 of the women continued their treatment for 2 y to gather information about the long-term effects of vitamin K1 supplementation. All the women had regular bone density scans of their lower back and hips and were examined for fractures and for changes in bone turnover. After 2 y and after 4 y, lower back and hip bone density measurements had decreased by similar amounts in both treatment groups. The women who took vitamin K1 had 10-fold higher amounts of vitamin K1 in their blood than the women who took placebo and lower amounts of a bone formation marker; the levels of a bone resorption marker were similar in both groups. Over the 4-y period, fewer women in the vitamin K group had fractures (nine versus 20 women in the placebo group), and fewer had cancer (three versus 12). Finally, vitamin K supplementation was well tolerated over the 4-y period and adverse health effects were similar in the two treatment groups.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that a high daily dose of vitamin K1 provides no protection against the age-related decline in bone density in postmenopausal women with osteopenia, but that vitamin K1 supplementation may protect against fractures and cancers in these women. The apparent contradiction between the effects of vitamin K1 on bone density and on fractures could mean that vitamin K1 supplements strengthen bone by changing factors other than bone density, e.g., by changing its fine structure rather than making it denser. However, because so few study participants had fractures, the difference in the fracture rate between the two treatment groups might have occurred by chance. Larger studies are therefore needed to examine the effect of vitamin K1 on fractures (and on cancer) and, until these are done, high-dose vitamin K1 supplementation should not be recommended for the prevention of osteoporosis.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0050196.
The US National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases provides detailed information about osteoporosis (in English and Spanish) and links to other resources, including an interactive web tool called Check Up On Your Bones
MedlinePlus provides links to additional information about osteoporosis (in English and Spanish)
The MedlinePlus Encyclopedia has a page about vitamin K
The UK Food Standards Agency provides information about vitamin K
Full details about the ECKO trial are available on the ClinicalTrials.gov Web site
The Canadian Task Force for Preventive Health Care provides recommendations on the prevention of osteoporosis and osteoporotic fractures in postmenopausal women
Osteoporosis Canada provides information on current topics related to osteoporosis
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050196
PMCID: PMC2566998  PMID: 18922041
3.  Subnormal vitamin B12 concentrations and anaemia in older people: a systematic review 
BMC Geriatrics  2010;10:42.
Background
Pernicious anaemia is undeniably associated with vitamin B12 deficiency, but the association between subnormal vitamin B12 concentrations and anaemia in older people is unclear. The aim of this systematic review was to evaluate the association between subnormal vitamin B12 concentrations and anaemia in older people.
Methods
Clinical queries for aetiology and treatment in bibliographic databases (PubMed [01/1949-10/2009]; EMBASE [01/1980-10/2009]) were used. Reference lists were checked for additional relevant studies. Observational studies (≥50 participants) and randomized placebo-controlled intervention trials (RCTs) were considered.
Results
25 studies met the inclusion criteria. Twenty-one observational cross-sectional studies (total number of participants n = 16185) showed inconsistent results. In one longitudinal observational study, low vitamin B12 concentrations were not associated with an increased risk of anaemia (total n = 423). The 3 RCTs (total n = 210) were well-designed and showed no effect of vitamin B12 supplementation on haemoglobin concentrations during follow-up in subjects with subnormal vitamin B12 concentrations at the start of the study. Due to large clinical and methodological heterogeneity, statistical pooling of data was not performed.
Conclusions
Evidence of a positive association between a subnormal serum vitamin B12 concentration and anaemia in older people is limited and inconclusive. Further well-designed studies are needed to determine whether subnormal vitamin B12 is a risk factor for anaemia in older people.
doi:10.1186/1471-2318-10-42
PMCID: PMC2900261  PMID: 20573208
4.  Causal Relationship between Obesity and Vitamin D Status: Bi-Directional Mendelian Randomization Analysis of Multiple Cohorts 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(2):e1001383.
A mendelian randomization study based on data from multiple cohorts conducted by Karani Santhanakrishnan Vimaleswaran and colleagues re-examines the causal nature of the relationship between vitamin D levels and obesity.
Background
Obesity is associated with vitamin D deficiency, and both are areas of active public health concern. We explored the causality and direction of the relationship between body mass index (BMI) and 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] using genetic markers as instrumental variables (IVs) in bi-directional Mendelian randomization (MR) analysis.
Methods and Findings
We used information from 21 adult cohorts (up to 42,024 participants) with 12 BMI-related SNPs (combined in an allelic score) to produce an instrument for BMI and four SNPs associated with 25(OH)D (combined in two allelic scores, separately for genes encoding its synthesis or metabolism) as an instrument for vitamin D. Regression estimates for the IVs (allele scores) were generated within-study and pooled by meta-analysis to generate summary effects.
Associations between vitamin D scores and BMI were confirmed in the Genetic Investigation of Anthropometric Traits (GIANT) consortium (n = 123,864). Each 1 kg/m2 higher BMI was associated with 1.15% lower 25(OH)D (p = 6.52×10−27). The BMI allele score was associated both with BMI (p = 6.30×10−62) and 25(OH)D (−0.06% [95% CI −0.10 to −0.02], p = 0.004) in the cohorts that underwent meta-analysis. The two vitamin D allele scores were strongly associated with 25(OH)D (p≤8.07×10−57 for both scores) but not with BMI (synthesis score, p = 0.88; metabolism score, p = 0.08) in the meta-analysis. A 10% higher genetically instrumented BMI was associated with 4.2% lower 25(OH)D concentrations (IV ratio: −4.2 [95% CI −7.1 to −1.3], p = 0.005). No association was seen for genetically instrumented 25(OH)D with BMI, a finding that was confirmed using data from the GIANT consortium (p≥0.57 for both vitamin D scores).
Conclusions
On the basis of a bi-directional genetic approach that limits confounding, our study suggests that a higher BMI leads to lower 25(OH)D, while any effects of lower 25(OH)D increasing BMI are likely to be small. Population level interventions to reduce BMI are expected to decrease the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Obesity—having an unhealthy amount of body fat—is increasing worldwide. In the US, for example, a third of the adult population is now obese. Obesity is defined as having a body mass index (BMI, an indicator of body fat calculated by dividing a person's weight in kilograms by their height in meters squared) of more than 30.0 kg/m2. Although there is a genetic contribution to obesity, people generally become obese by consuming food and drink that contains more energy than they need for their daily activities. Thus, obesity can be prevented by having a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Compared to people with a healthy weight, obese individuals have an increased risk of developing diabetes, heart disease and stroke, and tend to die younger. They also have a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency, another increasingly common public health concern. Vitamin D, which is essential for healthy bones as well as other functions, is made in the skin after exposure to sunlight but can also be obtained through the diet and through supplements.
Why Was This Study Done?
Observational studies cannot prove that obesity causes vitamin D deficiency because obese individuals may share other characteristics that reduce their circulating 25-hydroxy vitamin D [25(OH)D] levels (referred to as confounding). Moreover, observational studies cannot indicate whether the larger vitamin D storage capacity of obese individuals (vitamin D is stored in fatty tissues) lowers their 25(OH)D levels or whether 25(OH)D levels influence fat accumulation (reverse causation). If obesity causes vitamin D deficiency, monitoring and treating vitamin D deficiency might alleviate some of the adverse health effects of obesity. Conversely, if low vitamin D levels cause obesity, encouraging people to take vitamin D supplements might help to control the obesity epidemic. Here, the researchers use bi-directional “Mendelian randomization” to examine the direction and causality of the relationship between BMI and 25(OH)D. In Mendelian randomization, causality is inferred from associations between genetic variants that mimic the influence of a modifiable environmental exposure and the outcome of interest. Because gene variants do not change over time and are inherited randomly, they are not prone to confounding and are free from reverse causation. Thus, if a lower vitamin D status leads to obesity, genetic variants associated with lower 25(OH)D concentrations should be associated with higher BMI, and if obesity leads to a lower vitamin D status, then genetic variants associated with higher BMI should be associated with lower 25(OH)D concentrations.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers created a “BMI allele score” based on 12 BMI-related gene variants and two “25(OH)D allele scores,” which are based on gene variants that affect either 25(OH)D synthesis or breakdown. Using information on up to 42,024 participants from 21 studies, the researchers showed that the BMI allele score was associated with both BMI and with 25(OH)D levels among the study participants. Based on this information, they calculated that each 10% increase in BMI will lead to a 4.2% decrease in 25(OH)D concentrations. By contrast, although both 25(OH)D allele scores were strongly associated with 25(OH)D levels, neither score was associated with BMI. This lack of an association between 25(OH)D allele scores and obesity was confirmed using data from more than 100,000 individuals involved in 46 studies that has been collected by the GIANT (Genetic Investigation of Anthropometric Traits) consortium.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that a higher BMI leads to a lower vitamin D status whereas any effects of low vitamin D status on BMI are likely to be small. That is, these findings provide evidence for obesity as a causal factor in the development of vitamin D deficiency but not for vitamin D deficiency as a causal factor in the development of obesity. These findings suggest that population-level interventions to reduce obesity should lead to a reduction in the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and highlight the importance of monitoring and treating vitamin D deficiency as a means of alleviating the adverse influences of obesity on health.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001383.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on all aspects of overweight and obesity (in English and Spanish); a data brief provides information about the vitamin D status of the US population
The World Health Organization provides information on obesity (in several languages)
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides detailed information about obesity and a link to a personal story about losing weight; it also provides information about vitamin D
The International Obesity Taskforce provides information about the global obesity epidemic
The US Department of Agriculture's ChooseMyPlate.gov website provides a personal healthy eating plan; the Weight-control Information Network is an information service provided for the general public and health professionals by the US National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (in English and Spanish)
The US Office of Dietary Supplements provides information about vitamin D (in English and Spanish)
MedlinePlus has links to further information about obesity and about vitamin D (in English and Spanish)
Wikipedia has a page on Mendelian randomization (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
Overview and details of the collaborative large-scale genetic association study (D-CarDia) provide information about vitamin D and the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and related traits
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001383
PMCID: PMC3564800  PMID: 23393431
5.  Effects of Vitamin A Supplementation on Iron Status Indices and Iron Deficiency Anaemia: A Randomized Controlled Trial 
Nutrients  2013;6(1):190-206.
Iron deficiency anaemia (IDA) is the most common nutritional deficiency in the world including developed and developing countries. Despite intensive efforts to improve the quality of life of rural and aboriginal communities in Malaysia, anaemia and IDA are still major public health problems in these communities particularly among children. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was conducted on 250 Orang Asli (aboriginal) schoolchildren in Malaysia to investigate the effects of a single high-dose of vitamin A supplementation (200,000 IU) on iron status indices, anaemia and IDA status. The effect of the supplement was assessed after 3 months of receiving the supplements; after a complete 3-day deworming course of 400 mg/day of albendazole tablets. The prevalence of anaemia was found to be high: 48.5% (95% CI = 42.3, 54.8). Moreover, 34% (95% CI = 28.3, 40.2) of the children had IDA, which accounted for 70.1% of the anaemic cases. The findings showed that the reduction in serum ferritin level and the increments in haemoglobin, serum iron and transferrin saturation were found to be significant among children allocated to the vitamin A group compared to those allocated to the placebo group (p < 0.01). Moreover, a significant reduction in the prevalence of IDA by almost 22% than prevalence at baseline was reported among children in the vitamin A group compared with only 2.3% reduction among children in the placebo group. In conclusion, vitamin A supplementation showed a significant impact on iron status indices and IDA among Orang Asli children. Hence, providing vitamin A supplementation and imparting the knowledge related to nutritious food should be considered in the efforts to improve the nutritional and health status of these children as a part of efforts to improve the quality of life in rural and aboriginal communities.
doi:10.3390/nu6010190
PMCID: PMC3916855  PMID: 24384995
clinical trial; vitamin A supplementation; iron deficiency anaemia; children; Malaysia
6.  A Rare Case of Vitamin B12 Deficiency with Ascites 
Vitamin B12 deficiency is widespread than assumed in population. At risk are older people, pregnant women, vegans, patients with renal and intestinal diseases. Vitamin B12 deficiency can present with various hematological, gastrointestinal and neurological manifestations. In the population, the prevalence of vitamin B12 deficiency in younger people is 5% to 7% which is less compared to elderly people. In developing countries, deficiency is much more common, starting in early life and persisting across the life span. Here, we present a 16-year-old female patient presenting with ascites since 2 months who was subsequently investigated and diagnosed to have nutritional megaloblastic anaemia secondary to vitamin B12 deficiency after exclusion of other infective, neoplastic, autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. Inspite, patient was treated with antitubercular drugs but she did not respond. After supplementation of Vitamin B12, ascites responded well. Inadequate intake due to low consumption of animal source foods is the main cause of low serum vitamin B12 in younger adults and likely the main cause in poor population worldwide.
doi:10.7860/JCDR/2014/9729.4601
PMCID: PMC4149099  PMID: 25177593
Ascites; Vitamin B12; Young female
7.  Effect of multivitamin and multimineral supplementation on cognitive function in men and women aged 65 years and over: a randomised controlled trial 
Nutrition Journal  2007;6:10.
Background
Observational studies have frequently reported an association between cognitive function and nutrition in later life but randomised trials of B vitamins and antioxidant supplements have mostly found no beneficial effect. We examined the effect of daily supplementation with 11 vitamins and 5 minerals on cognitive function in older adults to assess the possibility that this could help to prevent cognitive decline.
Methods
The study was carried out as part of a randomised double blind placebo controlled trial of micronutrient supplementation based in six primary care health centres in North East Scotland. 910 men and women aged 65 years and over living in the community were recruited and randomised: 456 to active treatment and 454 to placebo. The active treatment consisted of a single tablet containing eleven vitamins and five minerals in amounts ranging from 50–210 % of the UK Reference Nutrient Intake or matching placebo tablet taken daily for 12 months. Digit span forward and verbal fluency tests, which assess immediate memory and executive functioning respectively, were conducted at the start and end of the intervention period. Risk of micronutrient deficiency at baseline was assessed by a simple risk questionnaire.
Results
For digit span forward there was no evidence of an effect of supplements in all participants or in sub-groups defined by age or risk of deficiency. For verbal fluency there was no evidence of a beneficial effect in the whole study population but there was weak evidence for a beneficial effect of supplementation in the two pre-specified subgroups: in those aged 75 years and over (n 290; mean difference between supplemented and placebo groups 2.8 (95% CI -0.6, 6.2) units) and in those at increased risk of micronutrient deficiency assessed by the risk questionnaire (n 260; mean difference between supplemented and placebo groups 2.5 (95% CI -1.0, 6.1) units).
Conclusion
The results provide no evidence for a beneficial effect of daily multivitamin and multimineral supplements on these domains of cognitive function in community-living people over 65 years. However, the possibility of beneficial effects in older people and those at greater risk of nutritional deficiency deserves further attention.
doi:10.1186/1475-2891-6-10
PMCID: PMC1872030  PMID: 17474991
8.  Vitamin D: Popular Cardiovascular Supplement but Benefit Must Be Evaluated 
Vitamin D deficiency is prevalent in the United States. Understanding any relationship between this deficiency and cardiovascular disease is essential. Vitamin D, as used, refers to both D2 and D3; both are present in over-the-counter supplements, whereas D2 is the prescription product in the United States. In the liver, both D2 and D3 are converted to 25-hydroxyvitamin D, the major circulating metabolite that is measured to assess activity. The actual active form at a cellular level is 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D; however, it does not correlate well with overall activity. Estimated vitamin D deficiency is, at times, more than 50%. Despite absence of placebo-controlled randomized trials, much information associates vitamin D deficiency with cardiovascular risk and supports benefit from vitamin D supplementation. There are also reports that explain how this benefit from vitamin D may occur. Vitamin D appears to cause only minimal changes in low- and high-density lipoprotein levels. Therefore, any cardiovascular benefit that may exist from vitamin D probably has an explanation other than an effect on levels of these lipoproteins. There is more association of vitamin D deficiency with metabolic syndrome components such as an increase in blood pressure, elevated plasma triglycerides, and impaired insulin metabolism. Possible documentation of cardiovascular benefit from vitamin D includes some evidence for endothelial stabilization and decreased inflammation in arteries. If the clinician decides that recommendation of vitamin D supplementation is warranted, it is reassuring that toxicity is rare. Furthermore, this toxicity involves doses exceeding those of most clinical trials and mainly has involved hypercalcemia. Vitamin D supplementation is easy and can be taken as a dose of 2000 IU daily on an indefinite basis. In 1997, the Food and Nutrition Board of the U.S. Institute of Medicine considered this the safe tolerable upper limit, but this is not based on current evidence. Some practitioners, especially endocrinologists, recommend vitamin D at a dose of 50,000 IU per week for 8 weeks, repeated if necessary to achieve a normal level of vitamin D. It appears appropriate to assess low vitamin D as a possible cardiovascular risk factor, but potential benefit of supplementation must be weighed against the current absence of definitive outcomes studies.
doi:10.1055/s-0031-1279679
PMCID: PMC3331634  PMID: 22654467
Cardiovascular risk; coronary heart disease; low-density lipoproteins; peripheral vascular disease; vitamin D
9.  An initial loading-dose vitamin D versus placebo after hip fracture surgery: baseline characteristics of a randomized controlled trial (REVITAHIP) 
BMC Geriatrics  2014;14:101.
Background
Hypovitaminosis D is particularly common among older people with a proximal femoral (hip) fracture. There are currently no agreed strategies for vitamin D replenishment after hip fracture surgery. The REVITAHIP Study is a multisite, double-blinded randomized-controlled trial investigating the effects of an oral vitamin D loading dose on gait velocity after hip fracture surgery. We describe the baseline characteristics of participants, aiming to document hypovitaminosis D and its associations after hip fracture.
Methods
Participants, over 65, recruited within 7 days following hip fracture surgery from 3 Australia hospitals, were randomly allocated to receive a loading dose of vitamin D3 (250,000IU) or placebo, followed by oral maintenance vitamin D3/calcium (800 IU/500 mg) and the usual hip fracture rehabilitation pathway. Demographic and clinical data were collected, including surgical procedure, pre-fracture functional status, Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) score, serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25-OHD), Verbal Rating Scale (VRS) for pain, grip strength and gait velocity. The associations of baseline 25-OHD levels with demographic and clinical data were assessed using Pearson’s correlation, ANOVA and regression analyses.
Results
Two-hundred-and-eighteen people with hip fracture participated in the study. Mean age was 83.9+/-7.2 years, 77% were women and 82% lived in private homes. Fifty-six percent had a subcapital fracture. Mean comorbidity count was 3.13+/-2.0. Mean MMSE was 26.1+/-3.9. Forty-seven percent of participants had hypovitaminosis D (<50 nmol/L). Multivariate regression models demonstrated higher baseline vitamin D levels were significantly associated with higher premorbid Barthel index scores, lower post-operative VRS pain levels and use of vitamin D.
Conclusion
This study cohort shared similar demographic characteristics and comorbidities with other cohorts of people with hip fracture, with the probable exception of less cognitive impairment. Hypovitaminosis D was not as prevalent as previously documented. Patients taking vitamin D supplements and with higher premorbid Barthel index, reflecting greater independence and activity, tended to have higher 25-OHD levels at baseline. Further, lower VRS pain ratings following surgery were associated with higher vitamin D levels. Such associations will need further investigation to determine causation. (ANZCTR number, ACTRN12610000392066).
Trial registration
The protocol for this study is registered with the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ANZCTRN ACTRN12610000392066.
doi:10.1186/1471-2318-14-101
PMCID: PMC4164764  PMID: 25200552
Fragility fractures; Hip fracture; Vitamin D; Aged care; Metabolic bone disorders; Osteoporosis; Rehabilitation; Trauma surgery
10.  Vitamin D: An overview of vitamin D status and intake in Europe 
Nutrition Bulletin / Bnf  2014;39(4):322-350.
In recent years, there have been reports suggesting a high prevalence of low vitamin D intakes and vitamin D deficiency or inadequate vitamin D status in Europe. Coupled with growing concern about the health risks associated with low vitamin D status, this has resulted in increased interest in the topic of vitamin D from healthcare professionals, the media and the public. Adequate vitamin D status has a key role in skeletal health. Prevention of the well-described vitamin D deficiency disorders of rickets and osteomalacia are clearly important, but there may also be an implication of low vitamin D status in bone loss, muscle weakness and falls and fragility fractures in older people, and these are highly significant public health issues in terms of morbidity, quality of life and costs to health services in Europe.
Although there is no agreement on optimal plasma levels of vitamin D, it is apparent that blood 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] levels are often below recommended ranges for the general population and are particularly low in some subgroups of the population, such as those in institutions or who are housebound and non-Western immigrants. Reported estimates of vitamin D status within different European countries show large variation. However, comparison of studies across Europe is limited by their use of different methodologies. The prevalence of vitamin D deficiency [often defined as plasma 25(OH)D <25 nmol/l] may be more common in populations with a higher proportion of at-risk groups, and/or that have low consumption of foods rich in vitamin D (naturally rich or fortified) and low use of vitamin D supplements.
The definition of an adequate or optimal vitamin D status is key in determining recommendations for a vitamin D intake that will enable satisfactory status to be maintained all year round, including the winter months. In most European countries, there seems to be a shortfall in achieving current vitamin D recommendations. An exception is Finland, where dietary survey data indicate that recent national policies that include fortification and supplementation, coupled with a high habitual intake of oil-rich fish, have resulted in an increase in vitamin D intakes, but this may not be a suitable strategy for all European populations. The ongoing standardisation of measurements in vitamin D research will facilitate a stronger evidence base on which policies can be determined. These policies may include promotion of dietary recommendations, food fortification, vitamin D supplementation and judicious sun exposure, but should take into account national, cultural and dietary habits. For European nations with supplementation policies, it is important that relevant parties ensure satisfactory uptake of these particularly in the most vulnerable groups of the population.
doi:10.1111/nbu.12108
PMCID: PMC4288313  PMID: 25635171
fortification; supplementation; vitamin D deficiency; vitamin D intake; vitamin D sources; vitamin D status
11.  Rationale and design of the B-PROOF study, a randomized controlled trial on the effect of supplemental intake of vitamin B12 and folic acid on fracture incidence 
BMC Geriatrics  2011;11:80.
Background
Osteoporosis is a major health problem, and the economic burden is expected to rise due to an increase in life expectancy throughout the world. Current observational evidence suggests that an elevated homocysteine concentration and poor vitamin B12 and folate status are associated with an increased fracture risk. As vitamin B12 and folate intake and status play a large role in homocysteine metabolism, it is hypothesized that supplementation with these B-vitamins will reduce fracture incidence in elderly people with an elevated homocysteine concentration.
Methods/Design
The B-PROOF (B-Vitamins for the PRevention Of Osteoporotic Fractures) study is a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial. The intervention comprises a period of two years, and includes 2919 subjects, aged 65 years and older, independently living or institutionalized, with an elevated homocysteine concentration (≥ 12 μmol/L). One group receives daily a tablet with 500 μg vitamin B12 and 400 μg folic acid and the other group receives a placebo tablet. In both tablets 15 μg (600 IU) vitamin D is included. The primary outcome of the study is osteoporotic fractures. Measurements are performed at baseline and after two years and cover bone health i.e. bone mineral density and bone turnover markers, physical performance and physical activity including falls, nutritional intake and status, cognitive function, depression, genetics and quality of life. This large multi-center project is carried out by a consortium from the Erasmus MC (Rotterdam, the Netherlands), VUmc (Amsterdam, the Netherlands) and Wageningen University, (Wageningen, the Netherlands), the latter acting as coordinator.
Discussion
To our best knowledge, the B-PROOF study is the first intervention study in which the effect of vitamin B12 and folic acid supplementation on osteoporotic fractures is studied in a general elderly population. We expect the first longitudinal results of the B-PROOF intervention in the second semester of 2013. The results of this intervention will provide evidence on the efficacy of vitamin B12 and folate supplementation in the prevention of osteoporotic fractures.
Trial Registration
The B-PROOF study is registered with the Netherlands Trial (NTR NTR1333) and with ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT00696514).
doi:10.1186/1471-2318-11-80
PMCID: PMC3266639  PMID: 22136481
12.  Vitamin D supplementation and endothelial function in vitamin D deficient HIV-infected patients: a randomized placebo-controlled trial 
Antiviral therapy  2011;17(4):613-621.
Background
Studies suggest that vitamin D deficiency is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Vitamin D deficiency is prevalent in HIV patients but the effect of vitamin D supplementation on cardiovascular risk in this population is unknown.
Methods
We conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial among 45 HIV-infected adults in Cleveland (OH, USA) on stable antiretroviral therapy with durable virological suppression and a baseline serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D level of ≤20 ng/ml. Participants were randomized 2:1 to vitamin D3 4,000 IU daily or placebo for 12 weeks. The primary outcome was a change in flow-mediated brachial artery dilation (FMD).
Results
Baseline demographics were similar except for age (vitamin D versus placebo, mean ±SD 47 ±8 versus 40 ±10 years; P=0.009). Both groups had reduced FMD at baseline (median values 2.9% [IQR 1.6–4.8] for vitamin D versus 2.5% [IQR 1.7–6.4] for placebo; P=0.819). Despite an increase in the concentration of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D from baseline to 12 weeks (5.0 ng/ml [IQR −0.9–7.4] versus −1.9 ng/ml [IQR −4.0–0.1] for vitamin D versus placebo, respectively; P=0.003), there was no difference in FMD change (0.55% [IQR −1.05–2.13] versus 0.29% [IQR −1.61–1.77]; P=0.748). Vitamin D supplementation was associated with a decrease in total and non-high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and an increase in indices of insulin resistance.
Conclusions
Among HIV-infected individuals with vitamin D deficiency, supplementation with 4,000 IU vitamin D3 daily for 12 weeks modestly improved vitamin D status and cholesterol but worsened insulin resistance without change in endothelial function. The mechanisms of resistance to standard doses of vitamin D and the complex role of vitamin D in glucose metabolism in this population require further investigation.
doi:10.3851/IMP1983
PMCID: PMC3898848  PMID: 22293363
13.  Vitamin D supplementation in older people (VDOP): Study protocol for a randomised controlled intervention trial with monthly oral dosing with 12,000 IU, 24,000 IU or 48,000 IU of vitamin D3 
Trials  2013;14:299.
The randomised, double blind intervention trial ‘Optimising Vitamin D Status in Older People’ (VDOP) will test the effect of three oral dosages of vitamin D given for one year on bone mineral density (BMD) and biochemical markers of vitamin D metabolism, bone turnover and safety in older people. VDOP is funded by Arthritis Research UK, supported through Newcastle University and MRC Human Nutrition Research and sponsored by the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.a
Background
Vitamin D insufficiency is common in older people and may lead to secondary hyperparathyroidism, bone loss, impairment of muscle function and increased risk of falls and fractures. Vitamin D supplementation trials have yielded conflicting results with regard to decreasing rates of bone loss, falls and fractures and the optimal plasma concentration of 25 hydroxy vitamin D (25OHD) for skeletal health remains unclear.
Method/design
Older (≥70 years) community dwelling men and women are recruited through General Practices in Northern England and 375 participants are randomised to take 12,000 international units (IU), 24,000 IU or 48,000 IU of vitamin D3 orally each month for one year starting in the winter or early spring. Hip BMD and anthropometry are measured at baseline and 12 months. Fasting blood samples are collected at baseline and three-month intervals for the measurement of plasma 25OHD, parathyroid hormone (PTH), biochemical markers of bone turnover and biochemistry to assess the dose–response and safety of supplementation. Questionnaire data include falls, fractures, quality of life, adverse events and outcomes, compliance, dietary calcium intake and sunshine exposure.
Discussion
This is the first integrated vitamin D supplementation trial in older men and women using a range of doses given at monthly intervals to assess BMD, plasma 25OHD, PTH and biochemical markers of bone turnover and safety, quality of life and physical performance. We aim to investigate the vitamin D supplementation and plasma 25OHD concentration required to maintain bone health and to develop a set of biochemical markers that reflects the effect of vitamin D on bone. This will aid future studies investigating the effect of vitamin D supplementation on fracture risk.
#ISRCTN 35648481 (assigned 16 August 2012), EudraCT 2011-004890-10.
doi:10.1186/1745-6215-14-299
PMCID: PMC3848647  PMID: 24041337
Vitamin D supplementation trial; Bone mineral density; 25 hydroxy vitamin D; Parathyroid hormone; Bone markers; Older people
14.  Improving Mobility and Reducing Disability in Older People Through Early High-Dose Vitamin D Replacement Following Hip Fracture: A Protocol for a Randomized Controlled Trial and Economic Evaluation 
Hypovitaminosis D is particularly common among older people with a proximal femoral (hip) fracture and has been linked with poorer lower extremity functioning, falls, and fractures. There is evidence that disability severity and fall rates may be reduced by adequate vitamin D replacement. However, the ideal regimen for vitamin D administration to have these benefits in older people who have been in the hospital has not been established. This randomized controlled trial will investigate the effects of an oral vitamin D loading dose with maintenance oral vitamin D and calcium on lower extremity function (gait velocity), correction of hypovitaminosis D, falls, and fractures among older people after hip fracture surgery. The cost-effectiveness of the REVITAHIP program from the health and community service provider’s perspective will also be established, as will predictors of adherence with the treatment. A total of 450 older people who have recently had a hip fracture requiring surgical intervention will be screened to achieve 250 participants for the study. Participants will have no medical contraindications to vitamin D replacement. The primary outcome measure will be mobility-related disability as measured with the 2.4-m gait velocity test. Secondary measures will be 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25-OHD) levels at 2, 4, and 26 weeks, number of falls and fractures, and additional measures of mobility, disability, quality of life, health system and community–service contact, adherence to the intervention, and adverse events. After surgical fixation and being deemed medically stable, participants will be randomly allocated to an intervention or placebo-control group. Participants of the intervention group will receive initial oral 250 000 IU (5 × 50 000 IU) vitamin D3 tablets. Both groups will receive oral maintenance vitamin D3 and calcium and will follow the usual hip fracture rehabilitation pathway. The study will determine the impact of a vitamin D loading dose on mobility-related disability in older people following hip fracture and will discuss the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of a loading dose vitamin D replacement more generally. The results will have direct implications for future use of vitamin D therapy for this high-risk group.
doi:10.1177/2151458511406723
PMCID: PMC3597307  PMID: 23569677
fragility fractures; geriatric medicine; hospitalist; metabolic bone disorders; osteoporosis; physical medicine and rehabilitation; trauma surgery
15.  Clinical Utility of Vitamin D Testing 
Executive Summary
This report from the Medical Advisory Secretariat (MAS) was intended to evaluate the clinical utility of vitamin D testing in average risk Canadians and in those with kidney disease. As a separate analysis, this report also includes a systematic literature review of the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in these two subgroups.
This evaluation did not set out to determine the serum vitamin D thresholds that might apply to non-bone health outcomes. For bone health outcomes, no high or moderate quality evidence could be found to support a target serum level above 50 nmol/L. Similarly, no high or moderate quality evidence could be found to support vitamin D’s effects in non-bone health outcomes, other than falls.
Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a lipid soluble vitamin that acts as a hormone. It stimulates intestinal calcium absorption and is important in maintaining adequate phosphate levels for bone mineralization, bone growth, and remodelling. It’s also believed to be involved in the regulation of cell growth proliferation and apoptosis (programmed cell death), as well as modulation of the immune system and other functions. Alone or in combination with calcium, Vitamin D has also been shown to reduce the risk of fractures in elderly men (≥ 65 years), postmenopausal women, and the risk of falls in community-dwelling seniors. However, in a comprehensive systematic review, inconsistent results were found concerning the effects of vitamin D in conditions such as cancer, all-cause mortality, and cardiovascular disease. In fact, no high or moderate quality evidence could be found concerning the effects of vitamin D in such non-bone health outcomes. Given the uncertainties surrounding the effects of vitamin D in non-bone health related outcomes, it was decided that this evaluation should focus on falls and the effects of vitamin D in bone health and exclusively within average-risk individuals and patients with kidney disease.
Synthesis of vitamin D occurs naturally in the skin through exposure to ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation from sunlight, but it can also be obtained from dietary sources including fortified foods, and supplements. Foods rich in vitamin D include fatty fish, egg yolks, fish liver oil, and some types of mushrooms. Since it is usually difficult to obtain sufficient vitamin D from non-fortified foods, either due to low content or infrequent use, most vitamin D is obtained from fortified foods, exposure to sunlight, and supplements.
Clinical Need: Condition and Target Population
Vitamin D deficiency may lead to rickets in infants and osteomalacia in adults. Factors believed to be associated with vitamin D deficiency include:
darker skin pigmentation,
winter season,
living at higher latitudes,
skin coverage,
kidney disease,
malabsorption syndromes such as Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis, and
genetic factors.
Patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) are at a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency due to either renal losses or decreased synthesis of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D.
Health Canada currently recommends that, until the daily recommended intakes (DRI) for vitamin D are updated, Canada’s Food Guide (Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide) should be followed with respect to vitamin D intake. Issued in 2007, the Guide recommends that Canadians consume two cups (500 ml) of fortified milk or fortified soy beverages daily in order to obtain a daily intake of 200 IU. In addition, men and women over the age of 50 should take 400 IU of vitamin D supplements daily. Additional recommendations were made for breastfed infants.
A Canadian survey evaluated the median vitamin D intake derived from diet alone (excluding supplements) among 35,000 Canadians, 10,900 of which were from Ontario. Among Ontarian males ages 9 and up, the median daily dietary vitamin D intake ranged between 196 IU and 272 IU per day. Among females, it varied from 152 IU to 196 IU per day. In boys and girls ages 1 to 3, the median daily dietary vitamin D intake was 248 IU, while among those 4 to 8 years it was 224 IU.
Vitamin D Testing
Two laboratory tests for vitamin D are available, 25-hydroxy vitamin D, referred to as 25(OH)D, and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D. Vitamin D status is assessed by measuring the serum 25(OH)D levels, which can be assayed using radioimmunoassays, competitive protein-binding assays (CPBA), high pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC), and liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). These may yield different results with inter-assay variation reaching up to 25% (at lower serum levels) and intra-assay variation reaching 10%.
The optimal serum concentration of vitamin D has not been established and it may change across different stages of life. Similarly, there is currently no consensus on target serum vitamin D levels. There does, however, appear to be a consensus on the definition of vitamin D deficiency at 25(OH)D < 25 nmol/l, which is based on the risk of diseases such as rickets and osteomalacia. Higher target serum levels have also been proposed based on subclinical endpoints such as parathyroid hormone (PTH). Therefore, in this report, two conservative target serum levels have been adopted, 25 nmol/L (based on the risk of rickets and osteomalacia), and 40 to 50 nmol/L (based on vitamin D’s interaction with PTH).
Ontario Context
Volume & Cost
The volume of vitamin D tests done in Ontario has been increasing over the past 5 years with a steep increase of 169,000 tests in 2007 to more than 393,400 tests in 2008. The number of tests continues to rise with the projected number of tests for 2009 exceeding 731,000. According to the Ontario Schedule of Benefits, the billing cost of each test is $51.7 for 25(OH)D (L606, 100 LMS units, $0.517/unit) and $77.6 for 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (L605, 150 LMS units, $0.517/unit). Province wide, the total annual cost of vitamin D testing has increased from approximately $1.7M in 2004 to over $21.0M in 2008. The projected annual cost for 2009 is approximately $38.8M.
Evidence-Based Analysis
The objective of this report is to evaluate the clinical utility of vitamin D testing in the average risk population and in those with kidney disease. As a separate analysis, the report also sought to evaluate the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in Canada. The specific research questions addressed were thus:
What is the clinical utility of vitamin D testing in the average risk population and in subjects with kidney disease?
What is the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in the average risk population in Canada?
What is the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in patients with kidney disease in Canada?
Clinical utility was defined as the ability to improve bone health outcomes with the focus on the average risk population (excluding those with osteoporosis) and patients with kidney disease.
Literature Search
A literature search was performed on July 17th, 2009 using OVID MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, EMBASE, the Cumulative Index to Nursing & Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), the Cochrane Library, and the International Agency for Health Technology Assessment (INAHTA) for studies published from January 1, 1998 until July 17th, 2009. Abstracts were reviewed by a single reviewer and, for those studies meeting the eligibility criteria, full-text articles were obtained. Reference lists were also examined for any additional relevant studies not identified through the search. Articles with unknown eligibility were reviewed with a second clinical epidemiologist, then a group of epidemiologists until consensus was established. The quality of evidence was assessed as high, moderate, low or very low according to GRADE methodology.
Observational studies that evaluated the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in Canada in the population of interest were included based on the inclusion and exclusion criteria listed below. The baseline values were used in this report in the case of interventional studies that evaluated the effect of vitamin D intake on serum levels. Studies published in grey literature were included if no studies published in the peer-reviewed literature were identified for specific outcomes or subgroups.
Considering that vitamin D status may be affected by factors such as latitude, sun exposure, food fortification, among others, the search focused on prevalence studies published in Canada. In cases where no Canadian prevalence studies were identified, the decision was made to include studies from the United States, given the similar policies in vitamin D food fortification and recommended daily intake.
Inclusion Criteria
Studies published in English
Publications that reported the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in Canada
Studies that included subjects from the general population or with kidney disease
Studies in children or adults
Studies published between January 1998 and July 17th 2009
Exclusion Criteria
Studies that included subjects defined according to a specific disease other than kidney disease
Letters, comments, and editorials
Studies that measured the serum vitamin D levels but did not report the percentage of subjects with serum levels below a given threshold
Outcomes of Interest
Prevalence of serum vitamin D less than 25 nmol/L
Prevalence of serum vitamin D less than 40 to 50 nmol/L
Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D was the metabolite used to assess vitamin D status. Results from adult and children studies were reported separately. Subgroup analyses according to factors that affect serum vitamin D levels (e.g., seasonal effects, skin pigmentation, and vitamin D intake) were reported if enough information was provided in the studies
Quality of Evidence
The quality of the prevalence studies was based on the method of subject recruitment and sampling, possibility of selection bias, and generalizability to the source population. The overall quality of the trials was examined according to the GRADE Working Group criteria.
Summary of Findings
Fourteen prevalence studies examining Canadian adults and children met the eligibility criteria. With the exception of one longitudinal study, the studies had a cross-sectional design. Two studies were conducted among Canadian adults with renal disease but none studied Canadian children with renal disease (though three such US studies were included). No systematic reviews or health technology assessments that evaluated the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in Canada were identified. Two studies were published in grey literature, consisting of a Canadian survey designed to measure serum vitamin D levels and a study in infants presented as an abstract at a conference. Also included were the results of vitamin D tests performed in community laboratories in Ontario between October 2008 and September 2009 (provided by the Ontario Association of Medical Laboratories).
Different threshold levels were used in the studies, thus we reported the percentage of subjects with serum levels of between 25 and 30 nmol/L and between 37.5 and 50 nmol/L. Some studies stratified the results according to factors affecting vitamin D status and two used multivariate models to investigate the effects of these characteristics (including age, season, BMI, vitamin D intake, skin pigmentation, and season) on serum 25(OH)D levels. It’s unclear, however, if these studies were adequately powered for these subgroup analyses.
Study participants generally consisted of healthy, community-dwelling subjects and most excluded individuals with conditions or medications that alter vitamin D or bone metabolism, such as kidney or liver disease. Although the studies were conducted in different parts of Canada, fewer were performed in Northern latitudes, i.e. above 53°N, which is equivalent to the city of Edmonton.
Adults
Serum vitamin D levels of < 25 to 30 nmol/L were observed in 0% to 25.5% of the subjects included in five studies; the weighted average was 3.8% (95% CI: 3.0, 4.6). The preliminary results of the Canadian survey showed that approximately 5% of the subjects had serum levels below 29.5 nmol/L. The results of over 600,000 vitamin D tests performed in Ontarian community laboratories between October 2008 and September 2009 showed that 2.6% of adults (> 18 years) had serum levels < 25 nmol/L.
The prevalence of serum vitamin D levels below 37.5-50 nmol/L reported among studies varied widely, ranging from 8% to 73.6% with a weighted average of 22.5%. The preliminary results of the CHMS survey showed that between 10% and 25% of subjects had serum levels below 37 to 48 nmol/L. The results of the vitamin D tests performed in community laboratories showed that 10% to 25% of the individuals had serum levels between 39 and 50 nmol/L.
In an attempt to explain this inter-study variation, the study results were stratified according to factors affecting serum vitamin D levels, as summarized below. These results should be interpreted with caution as none were adjusted for other potential confounders. Adequately powered multivariate analyses would be necessary to determine the contribution of risk factors to lower serum 25(OH)D levels.
Seasonal variation
Three adult studies evaluating serum vitamin D levels in different seasons observed a trend towards a higher prevalence of serum levels < 37.5 to 50 nmol/L during the winter and spring months, specifically 21% to 39%, compared to 8% to 14% in the summer. The weighted average was 23.6% over the winter/spring months and 9.6% over summer. The difference between the seasons was not statistically significant in one study and not reported in the other two studies.
Skin Pigmentation
Four studies observed a trend toward a higher prevalence of serum vitamin D levels < 37.5 to 50 nmol/L in subjects with darker skin pigmentation compared to those with lighter skin pigmentation, with weighted averages of 46.8% among adults with darker skin colour and 15.9% among those with fairer skin.
Vitamin D intake and serum levels
Four adult studies evaluated serum vitamin D levels according to vitamin D intake and showed an overall trend toward a lower prevalence of serum levels < 37.5 to 50 nmol/L with higher levels of vitamin D intake. One study observed a dose-response relationship between higher vitamin D intake from supplements, diet (milk), and sun exposure (results not adjusted for other variables). It was observed that subjects taking 50 to 400 IU or > 400 IU of vitamin D per day had a 6% and 3% prevalence of serum vitamin D level < 40 nmol/L, respectively, versus 29% in subjects not on vitamin D supplementation. Similarly, among subjects drinking one or two glasses of milk per day, the prevalence of serum vitamin D levels < 40 nmol/L was found to be 15%, versus 6% in those who drink more than two glasses of milk per day and 21% among those who do not drink milk. On the other hand, one study observed little variation in serum vitamin D levels during winter according to milk intake, with the proportion of subjects exhibiting vitamin D levels of < 40 nmol/L being 21% among those drinking 0-2 glasses per day, 26% among those drinking > 2 glasses, and 20% among non-milk drinkers.
The overall quality of evidence for the studies conducted among adults was deemed to be low, although it was considered moderate for the subgroups of skin pigmentation and seasonal variation.
Newborn, Children and Adolescents
Five Canadian studies evaluated serum vitamin D levels in newborns, children, and adolescents. In four of these, it was found that between 0 and 36% of children exhibited deficiency across age groups with a weighted average of 6.4%. The results of over 28,000 vitamin D tests performed in children 0 to 18 years old in Ontario laboratories (Oct. 2008 to Sept. 2009) showed that 4.4% had serum levels of < 25 nmol/L.
According to two studies, 32% of infants 24 to 30 months old and 35.3% of newborns had serum vitamin D levels of < 50 nmol/L. Two studies of children 2 to 16 years old reported that 24.5% and 34% had serum vitamin D levels below 37.5 to 40 nmol/L. In both studies, older children exhibited a higher prevalence than younger children, with weighted averages 34.4% and 10.3%, respectively. The overall weighted average of the prevalence of serum vitamin D levels < 37.5 to 50 nmol/L among pediatric studies was 25.8%. The preliminary results of the Canadian survey showed that between 10% and 25% of subjects between 6 and 11 years (N= 435) had serum levels below 50 nmol/L, while for those 12 to 19 years, 25% to 50% exhibited serum vitamin D levels below 50 nmol/L.
The effects of season, skin pigmentation, and vitamin D intake were not explored in Canadian pediatric studies. A Canadian surveillance study did, however, report 104 confirmed cases1 (2.9 cases per 100,000 children) of vitamin D-deficient rickets among Canadian children age 1 to 18 between 2002 and 2004, 57 (55%) of which from Ontario. The highest incidence occurred among children living in the North, i.e., the Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut. In 92 (89%) cases, skin pigmentation was categorized as intermediate to dark, 98 (94%) had been breastfed, and 25 (24%) were offspring of immigrants to Canada. There were no cases of rickets in children receiving ≥ 400 IU VD supplementation/day.
Overall, the quality of evidence of the studies of children was considered very low.
Kidney Disease
Adults
Two studies evaluated serum vitamin D levels in Canadian adults with kidney disease. The first included 128 patients with chronic kidney disease stages 3 to 5, 38% of which had serum vitamin D levels of < 37.5 nmol/L (measured between April and July). This is higher than what was reported in Canadian studies of the general population during the summer months (i.e. between 8% and 14%). In the second, which examined 419 subjects who had received a renal transplantation (mean time since transplantation: 7.2 ± 6.4 years), the prevalence of serum vitamin D levels < 40 nmol/L was 27.3%. The authors concluded that the prevalence observed in the study population was similar to what is expected in the general population.
Children
No studies evaluating serum vitamin D levels in Canadian pediatric patients with kidney disease could be identified, although three such US studies among children with chronic kidney disease stages 1 to 5 were. The mean age varied between 10.7 and 12.5 years in two studies but was not reported in the third. Across all three studies, the prevalence of serum vitamin D levels below the range of 37.5 to 50 nmol/L varied between 21% and 39%, which is not considerably different from what was observed in studies of healthy Canadian children (24% to 35%).
Overall, the quality of evidence in adults and children with kidney disease was considered very low.
Clinical Utility of Vitamin D Testing
A high quality comprehensive systematic review published in August 2007 evaluated the association between serum vitamin D levels and different bone health outcomes in different age groups. A total of 72 studies were included. The authors observed that there was a trend towards improvement in some bone health outcomes with higher serum vitamin D levels. Nevertheless, precise thresholds for improved bone health outcomes could not be defined across age groups. Further, no new studies on the association were identified during an updated systematic review on vitamin D published in July 2009.
With regards to non-bone health outcomes, there is no high or even moderate quality evidence that supports the effectiveness of vitamin D in outcomes such as cancer, cardiovascular outcomes, and all-cause mortality. Even if there is any residual uncertainty, there is no evidence that testing vitamin D levels encourages adherence to Health Canada’s guidelines for vitamin D intake. A normal serum vitamin D threshold required to prevent non-bone health related conditions cannot be resolved until a causal effect or correlation has been demonstrated between vitamin D levels and these conditions. This is as an ongoing research issue around which there is currently too much uncertainty to base any conclusions that would support routine vitamin D testing.
For patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD), there is again no high or moderate quality evidence supporting improved outcomes through the use of calcitriol or vitamin D analogs. In the absence of such data, the authors of the guidelines for CKD patients consider it best practice to maintain serum calcium and phosphate at normal levels, while supplementation with active vitamin D should be considered if serum PTH levels are elevated. As previously stated, the authors of guidelines for CKD patients believe that there is not enough evidence to support routine vitamin D [25(OH)D] testing. According to what is stated in the guidelines, decisions regarding the commencement or discontinuation of treatment with calcitriol or vitamin D analogs should be based on serum PTH, calcium, and phosphate levels.
Limitations associated with the evidence of vitamin D testing include ambiguities in the definition of an ‘adequate threshold level’ and both inter- and intra- assay variability. The MAS considers both the lack of a consensus on the target serum vitamin D levels and assay limitations directly affect and undermine the clinical utility of testing. The evidence supporting the clinical utility of vitamin D testing is thus considered to be of very low quality.
Daily vitamin D intake, either through diet or supplementation, should follow Health Canada’s recommendations for healthy individuals of different age groups. For those with medical conditions such as renal disease, liver disease, and malabsorption syndromes, and for those taking medications that may affect vitamin D absorption/metabolism, physician guidance should be followed with respect to both vitamin D testing and supplementation.
Conclusions
Studies indicate that vitamin D, alone or in combination with calcium, may decrease the risk of fractures and falls among older adults.
There is no high or moderate quality evidence to support the effectiveness of vitamin D in other outcomes such as cancer, cardiovascular outcomes, and all-cause mortality.
Studies suggest that the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in Canadian adults and children is relatively low (approximately 5%), and between 10% and 25% have serum levels below 40 to 50 nmol/L (based on very low to low grade evidence).
Given the limitations associated with serum vitamin D measurement, ambiguities in the definition of a ‘target serum level’, and the availability of clear guidelines on vitamin D supplementation from Health Canada, vitamin D testing is not warranted for the average risk population.
Health Canada has issued recommendations regarding the adequate daily intake of vitamin D, but current studies suggest that the mean dietary intake is below these recommendations. Accordingly, Health Canada’s guidelines and recommendations should be promoted.
Based on a moderate level of evidence, individuals with darker skin pigmentation appear to have a higher risk of low serum vitamin D levels than those with lighter skin pigmentation and therefore may need to be specially targeted with respect to optimum vitamin D intake. The cause-effect of this association is currently unclear.
Individuals with medical conditions such as renal and liver disease, osteoporosis, and malabsorption syndromes, as well as those taking medications that may affect vitamin D absorption/metabolism, should follow their physician’s guidance concerning both vitamin D testing and supplementation.
PMCID: PMC3377517  PMID: 23074397
16.  Protocol for Project FACT: a randomised controlled trial on the effect of a walking program and vitamin B supplementation on the rate of cognitive decline and psychosocial wellbeing in older adults with mild cognitive impairment [ISRCTN19227688] 
BMC Geriatrics  2005;5:18.
Background
the prevalence of individuals with cognitive decline is increasing since the number of elderly adults is growing considerably. The literature provides promising results on the beneficial effect of exercise and vitamin supplementation on cognitive function both in cognitively healthy as well as in the demented elderly.
Methods/Design
the design is a two-by-two factorial randomised controlled trial. The study population consists of independently living elderly, between 70 and 80 years old, with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). In the RCT the effect of two interventions, a walking program and vitamin supplementation, is examined. The walking program (WP) is a group-based program aimed at improving cardiovascular endurance; frequency two lessons a week; lesson duration one hour; program duration one year. Non-walking groups receive a placebo activity program (PAP) (i.e. low intensive non-aerobic group exercises, like stretching) with the same frequency, lesson and program duration. Vitamin supplementation consists of a single daily vitamin supplement containing 50 mg B6, 5 mg folic acid and 0,4 mg B12 for one year. Subjects not receiving vitamin supplements are daily taking an identically looking placebo pill, also for a year. Participants are randomised to four groups 1) WP and vitamin supplements; 2) WP and placebo supplements; 3) PAP and vitamin supplements; 4) PAP and placebo supplements. Primary outcome measures are measures of cognitive function. Secondary outcomes include psychosocial wellbeing, physical activity, cardiovascular endurance and blood vitamin levels.
Discussion
no large intervention study has been conducted yet on the effect of physical activity and vitamin supplementation in a population-based sample of adults with MCI. The objective of the present article is to describe the design of a randomised controlled trial examining the effect of a walking program and vitamin B supplementation on the rate of cognitive decline in older adults with MCI.
doi:10.1186/1471-2318-5-18
PMCID: PMC1361795  PMID: 16375760
17.  The neuropsychiatry of megaloblastic anaemia. 
British Medical Journal  1980;281(6247):1036-1038.
The neuropsychiatric states of 50 patients with vitamin B12 deficiency and 34 patients with folate deficiency presenting with megaloblastosis in a general hospital were examined and compared. Abnormalities of the nervous system were found in two-thirds of both groups. Peripheral neuropathy was the most common condition associated with vitamin B12 deficiency and affective disorder with folate deficiency. The proportions of patients with organic mental change were similar in the two groups. Subacute combined degeneration of the cord was an uncommon complication and occurred only in the patients with vitamin B12 deficiency. There was no relation between haematological and neuropsychiatric abnormalities. The neuropsychiatry of megaloblastic anaemia seen in this study of patients presenting to haematologists or general physicians contrasts with that reported previously, before haematological techniques for separating the two deficiencies were introduced.
PMCID: PMC1714413  PMID: 6253016
18.  Antiplatelet therapy and the effects of B vitamins in patients with previous stroke or transient ischaemic attack: a post-hoc subanalysis of VITATOPS, a randomised, placebo-controlled trial 
Lancet Neurology  2012;11(6):512-520.
Summary
Background
Previous studies have suggested that any benefits of folic acid-based therapy to lower serum homocysteine in prevention of cardiovascular events might be offset by concomitant use of antiplatelet therapy. We aimed to establish whether there is an interaction between antiplatelet therapy and the effects of folic acid-based homocysteine-lowering therapy on major vascular events in patients with stroke or transient ischaemic attack enrolled in the vitamins to prevent stroke (VITATOPS) trial.
Methods
In the VITATOPS trial, 8164 patients with recent stroke or transient ischaemic attack were randomly allocated to double-blind treatment with one tablet daily of placebo or B vitamins (2 mg folic acid, 25 mg vitamin B6, and 500 μg vitamin B12) and followed up for a median 3·4 years (IQR 2·0–5·5) for the primary composite outcome of stroke, myocardial infarction, or death from vascular causes. In our post-hoc analysis of the interaction between antiplatelet therapy and the effects of treatment with B vitamins on the primary outcome, we used Cox proportional hazards regression before and after adjusting for imbalances in baseline prognostic factors in participants who were and were not taking antiplatelet drugs at baseline and in participants assigned to receive B vitamins or placebo. We also assessed the interaction in different subgroups of patients and different secondary outcomes. The VITATOPS trial is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT00097669, and Current Controlled Trials, number ISRCTN74743444.
Findings
At baseline, 6609 patients were taking antiplatelet therapy and 1463 were not. Patients not receiving antiplatelet therapy were more likely to be younger, east Asian, and disabled, to have a haemorrhagic stroke or cardioembolic ischaemic stroke, and to have a history of hypertension or atrial fibrillation. They were less likely to be smokers and to have a history of peripheral artery disease, hypercholesterolaemia, diabetes, ischaemic heart disease, and a revascularisation procedure. Of the participants taking antiplatelet drugs at baseline, B vitamins had no significant effect on the primary outcome (488 patients in the B-vitamins group [15%] vs 519 in the placebo group [16%]; hazard ratio [HR] 0·94, 95% CI 0·83–1·07). By contrast, of the participants not taking antiplatelet drugs at baseline, B vitamins had a significant effect on the primary outcome (123 in the B-vitamins group [17%] vs 153 in the placebo group [21%]; HR 0·76, 0·60–0·96). The interaction between antiplatelet therapy and the effect of B vitamins on the primary outcome was significant after adjusting for imbalance in the baseline variables (adjusted p for interaction=0·0204).
Interpretation
Our findings support the hypothesis that antiplatelet therapy modifies the potential benefits of lowering homocysteine with B-vitamin supplementation in the secondary prevention of major vascular events. If validated, B vitamins might have a role in the prevention of ischaemic events in high-risk individuals with an allergy, intolerance, or lack of indication for antiplatelet therapy.
Funding
Australia National Health and Medical Research Council, UK Medical Research Council, Singapore Biomedical Research Council, and Singapore National Medical Research Council.
doi:10.1016/S1474-4422(12)70091-1
PMCID: PMC3361667  PMID: 22554931
19.  Vitamin B12 deficiency & levels of metabolites in an apparently normal urban south Indian elderly population 
Background & objectives:
There is no published literature on the extent of vitamin B12 deficiency in elderly Indians as determined by plasma vitamin B12 levels and methylmalonic acid (MMA) levels. Vitamin B12 deficiency is expected to be higher in elderly Indians due to vegetarianism, varied socio-economic strata and high prevalence of Helicobacter pylori infection. We therefore, studied the dietary habits of south Indian urban elderly population and measured vitamin B12, MMA red cell folate and homocysteine (Hcy) levels.
Methods:
Healthy elderly urban subjects (175, >60 yr) were recruited. Detailed history, physical examination and neurological assessment were carried out. Food Frequency Questionnaire (FFQ) for dietary analysis for daily intake of calories, vitamin B12, folate and detailed psychological assessment for cognitive functions was carried out. Blood samples were analyzed for routine haematology and biochemistry, vitamin B12, red cell folate, MMA and Hcy.
Results:
The mean age of the study population was 66.3 yr. Median values for daily dietary intake of vitamin B12 and folate were 2.4 and 349.2 μg/day respectively. Sixty two (35%) participants consumed multivitamin supplements. Plasma vitamin B12 level and the dietary intake of vitamin B12 was significantly correlated (P=0.157). Plasma vitamin B12 and Hcy were inversely correlated (P= -0.509). Red cell folate was inversely correlated with Hcy (P= -0.550). Significant negative correlation was observed between plasma vitamin B12 and MMA in the entire study population (P= -0.220). Subjects consuming vitamin supplements (n=62) had significantly higher plasma vitamin B12 levels, lower MMA levels and lower Hcy levels. There was no significant correlation between plasma vitamin B12, MMA, Hcy and red cell folate and any of the 10 cognitive tests including Hindi Mental Status Examination (HMSE).
Interpretation & conclusions:
Our study is indicative of higher vitamin B12 (2.4 μg/day) intakes in urban south Indian population. Thirty five per cent of the study population consumed multivitamin supplements and therefore, low plasma vitamin B12 levels were seen only in 16 per cent of the study subjects. However, MMA was elevated in 55 per cent and Hcy in 13 per cent of the subjects.
PMCID: PMC3237239  PMID: 22089603
Cognitive assessment; geriatric; methylmalonic acid; nutrition; vitamin B12 deficiency
20.  Effect of Supplementation with Zinc and Other Micronutrients on Malaria in Tanzanian Children: A Randomised Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(11):e1001125.
Hans Verhoef and colleagues report findings from a randomized trial conducted among Tanzanian children at high risk for malaria. Children in the trial received either daily oral supplementation with either zinc alone, multi-nutrients without zinc, multi-nutrients with zinc, or placebo. The investigators did not find evidence from this study that zinc or multi-nutrients protected against malaria episodes.
Background
It is uncertain to what extent oral supplementation with zinc can reduce episodes of malaria in endemic areas. Protection may depend on other nutrients. We measured the effect of supplementation with zinc and other nutrients on malaria rates.
Methods and Findings
In a 2×2 factorial trial, 612 rural Tanzanian children aged 6–60 months in an area with intense malaria transmission and with height-for-age z-score≤−1.5 SD were randomized to receive daily oral supplementation with either zinc alone (10 mg), multi-nutrients without zinc, multi-nutrients with zinc, or placebo. Intervention group was indicated by colour code, but neither participants, researchers, nor field staff knew who received what intervention. Those with Plasmodium infection at baseline were treated with artemether-lumefantrine. The primary outcome, an episode of malaria, was assessed among children reported sick at a primary care clinic, and pre-defined as current Plasmodium infection with an inflammatory response, shown by axillary temperature ≥37.5°C or whole blood C-reactive protein concentration ≥8 mg/L. Nutritional indicators were assessed at baseline and at 251 days (median; 95% reference range: 191–296 days). In the primary intention-to-treat analysis, we adjusted for pre-specified baseline factors, using Cox regression models that accounted for multiple episodes per child. 592 children completed the study. The primary analysis included 1,572 malaria episodes during 526 child-years of observation (median follow-up: 331 days). Malaria incidence in groups receiving zinc, multi-nutrients without zinc, multi-nutrients with zinc and placebo was 2.89/child-year, 2.95/child-year, 3.26/child-year, and 2.87/child-year, respectively. There was no evidence that multi-nutrients influenced the effect of zinc (or vice versa). Neither zinc nor multi-nutrients influenced malaria rates (marginal analysis; adjusted HR, 95% CI: 1.04, 0.93–1.18 and 1.10, 0.97–1.24 respectively). The prevalence of zinc deficiency (plasma zinc concentration <9.9 µmol/L) was high at baseline (67% overall; 60% in those without inflammation) and strongly reduced by zinc supplementation.
Conclusions
We found no evidence from this trial that zinc supplementation protected against malaria.
Trial Registration
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00623857
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.
Editors' Summary
Background
Malaria is a serious global public-health problem. Half of the world's population is at risk of this parasitic disease, which kills a million people (mainly children living in sub-Saharan Africa) every year. Malaria is transmitted to people through the bites of infected night-flying mosquitoes. Soon after entering the human body, the parasite begins to replicate in red blood cells, bursting out every 2–3 days and infecting more red blood cells. The presence of the parasite in the blood stream (parasitemia) causes malaria's characteristic recurring fever and can cause life-threatening organ damage and anemia (insufficient quantity of red blood cells). Malaria transmission can be reduced by using insecticide sprays to control the mosquitoes that spread the parasite and by avoiding mosquito bites by sleeping under insecticide-treated bed nets. Effective treatment with antimalarial drugs can also reduce malaria transmission.
Why Was This Study Done?
One reason why malaria kills so many children in Africa is poverty. Many children in Africa are malnourished, and malnutrition—in particular, insufficient micronutrients in the diet—impairs the immune system, which increases the frequency and severity of many childhood diseases. Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals that everyone needs in small quantities for good health. Zinc is one of the micronutrients that helps to maintain a healthy immune system, but zinc deficiency is very common among African children. Zinc supplementation has been shown to reduce the burden of diarrhea in developing countries, so might it also reduce the burden of malaria? Unfortunately, the existing evidence is confusing—some trials show that zinc supplementation protects against malaria but others show no evidence of protection. One possibility for these conflicting results could be that zinc supplementation alone is not sufficient—supplementation with other micronutrients might be needed for zinc to have an effect. In this randomized trial (a study that compares the effects of different interventions in groups that initially are similar in all characteristics except for intervention), the researchers investigate the effect of supplementation with zinc alone and in combination with other micronutrients on the rate of uncomplicated (mild) malaria among children living in Tanzania.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers enrolled 612 children aged 6–60 months who were living in a rural area of Tanzania with intense malaria transmission and randomly assigned them to receive daily oral supplements containing zinc alone, multi-nutrients (including iron) without zinc, multi-nutrients with zinc, or a placebo (no micronutrients). Nutritional indicators (including zinc concentrations in blood plasma) were assessed at baseline and 6–10 months after starting the intervention. During the study period, there were 1,572 malaria episodes. The incidence of malaria in all four intervention groups was very similar (about three episodes per child-year), and there was no evidence that multi-nutrients influenced the effect of zinc (or vice versa). Moreover, none of the supplements had any effect on malaria rates when compared to the placebo, even though the occurrence of zinc deficiency was strongly reduced by zinc supplementation. In a secondary analysis in which they analyzed their data by iron status at baseline, the researchers found that multi-nutrient supplementation increased the overall number of malaria episodes in children with iron deficiency by 41%, whereas multi-nutrient supplementation had no effect on the number of malaria episodes among children who were iron-replete at baseline.
What Do These Findings Mean?
In this study, the researchers found no evidence that zinc supplementation protected against malaria among young children living in Tanzania when given alone or in combination with other multi-nutrients. However, the researchers did find some evidence that multi-nutrient supplementation may increase the risk of malaria in children with iron deficiency. Because this finding came out of a secondary analysis of the data, it needs to be confirmed in a trial specifically designed to assess the effect of multi-nutrient supplements on malaria risk in iron-deficient children. Nevertheless, it is a potentially worrying result because, on the basis of evidence from a single study, the World Health Organization currently recommends that regular iron supplements be given to iron-deficient children in settings where there is adequate access to anti-malarial treatment. This recommendation should be reconsidered, suggest the researchers, and the safety of multi-nutrient mixes that contain iron and that are dispensed in countries affected by malaria should also be carefully evaluated.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001125.
Information is available from the World Health Organization on malaria (in several languages), on micronutrients, and on zinc deficiency; the 2010 World Malaria Report provides details of the current global malaria situation
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide information on malaria (in English and Spanish), including a selection of personal stories about malaria
Information is available from the Roll Back Malaria Partnership on the global control of malaria and on malaria in Africa
The Malaria Centre at the UK London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine develops tools, techniques, and knowledge about malaria, and has a strong emphasis on teaching, training, and translating research outcomes into practice
The Micronutrient Initiative, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, and the Flour Fortification Initiative are not-for-profit organizations dedicated to ensuring that people in developing countries get the minerals and vitamins they need to survive and thrive
The International Zinc Nutrition Consultative Group (iZiNCG) is a non-profit organization that aims to promote and assist efforts to reduce zinc deficiency worldwide, through advocacy efforts, education, and technical assistance
MedlinePlus provides links to additional information on malaria (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001125
PMCID: PMC3222646  PMID: 22131908
21.  Diagnostic value of the serum folate assay 
Journal of Clinical Pathology  1971;24(3):244-249.
The diagnostic value of the serum folate assay has been assessed in 90 patients, each of whom had a macrocytic anaemia and a low serum vitamin B12 level. Twenty-nine (32%) patients were found to have anaemia due primarily to folate deficiency. The cause of the low serum vitamin B12 levels is uncertain in the 22 (25%) patients with normal or borderline vitamin B12 absorption. The effect of folic acid therapy was studied in four of these patients, and in each case the serum vitamin B12 rose slowly to a normal level.
The serum folate was low in only four (7·5%) of the 54 patients with pernicious anaemia, and the levels rose to normal on treatment with vitamin B12 alone. A high serum folate occurred in eight (15%) pernicious anaemia patients. A normal serum folate indicated the diagnosis of pernicious anaemia or megaloblastic anaemia following partial gastrectomy. However, a normal serum folate and a very low vitamin B12 level was found in two patients with idiopathic steatorrhoea.
It is concluded that the serum folate assay is a valuable routine test in patients who have a macrocytic anaemia and low serum vitamin B12. A low folate level makes the diagnosis of pernicious anaemia unlikely and is a strong indication for full investigation of small intestinal function.
PMCID: PMC476963  PMID: 5573438
22.  Preventive health care, 2000 update: screening and management of hyperhomocysteinemia for the prevention of coronary artery disease events 
OBJECTIVE: To establish guidelines for the screening and treatment of hyperhomocysteinemia in the investigation and management of coronary artery disease (CAD). OPTIONS: Measurement of plasma total homocysteine (tHcy) levels in the fasting state or 4-6 hours after oral methionine load; vitamin supplementation with folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12; adherence to the recommended daily allowance of dietary sources of folate and vitamins B6 and B12. OUTCOMES: This article reviews the available evidence on the association between plasma tHcy levels and CAD and the effect of lowering tHcy levels through vitamin supplementation or dietary intake. EVIDENCE: MEDLINE was searched for relevant English-language articles published from January 1966 to June 1999; also reviewed were additional articles identified from the bibliographies. BENEFITS, HARMS AND COSTS: Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in Canada. Homocysteine, generated in the metabolism of methionine, may have a role in the development of cardiovascular disease. The prevalence of hyperhomocysteinemia in the general population is between 5% and 10% and may be as high as 30%-40% in the elderly population. If population-based studies are correct, tHcy may be responsible for up to 10% of CAD events and thus may represent an important and potentially modifiable risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Laboratory testing for tHcy is currently restricted to research centres, and costs range from $30 to $50 per person. Newer, less costly techniques have been developed and should become readily available with time. VALUES: The strength of evidence was evaluated using the methods of the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care. RECOMMENDATIONS: Although there is insufficient evidence to recommend the screening or management of hyperhomocysteinemia at present (grade C recommendation), adherence to recommended daily allowance of dietary sources of folate and vitamins B12 and B6 should be encouraged. If elevated tHcy levels are discovered, vitamin deficiency should be ruled out to allow specific treatment and prevention of complications, such as neurological sequelae due to vitamin B12 deficiency. Experts in the field advocate treatment of elevated tHcy levels in high-risk people, such as those with a personal or family history of premature atherosclerosis or a predisposition to develop hyperhomocysteinemia. Definitive guidelines for the management of hyperhomocysteinemia await the completion of randomized trials to establish the effect of vitamin supplementation on CAD events. VALIDATION: The findings of this analysis were reviewed through an iterative process by the members of the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care. SPONSORS: The Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care is funded through a partnership between the Provincial and Territorial Ministries of Health and Health Canada.
PMCID: PMC1232546  PMID: 10920726
23.  Vitamin K and the management of patients with cystic fibrosis. 
OBJECTIVE: To assess the advisability of routine vitamin K supplementation in patients with cystic fibrosis (CF). DATA SOURCES: Studies identified through a MEDLINE search with the use of MeSH terms vitamin K, cystic fibrosis, PIVKA-II (protein induced by vitamin K absence-II), coagulation abnormality and cystic fibrosis, and hepatic disorder and cystic fibrosis. STUDY SELECTION: Six articles published between January 1981 and December 1992 were selected: one general review of vitamin K in infancy and five studies involving clinical trials of vitamin K supplementation or screening for fat-soluble vitamins, vitamin K or PIVKA-II in patients with CF. Review articles on nutrition in patients with CF, technical reports, letters, comments and case studies not bearing directly on these issues were excluded. DATA EXTRACTION: Findings in these articles were analysed and compared to determine whether routine supplementation in all patients with CF is indicated, whether specific subgroups of these patients are susceptible to vitamin K deficiency and areas in which future research is needed. RESULTS: There is no consensus on routine vitamin K supplementation in patients with CF. Studies have found a few cases of vitamin K deficiency among the population of people with CF. In addition, various factors--including pancreatic failure, liver disease, bowel resection and long-term use of antibiotics--can put some of these patients at risk of vitamin K deficiency. CONCLUSIONS: Specific indications for routine vitamin K supplementation in all patients with CF have not yet been identified. Pending further studies, it would be prudent to consider routine supplementation in patients with CF and severe noncholestatic and cholestatic liver disease, major small-bowel resection, pancreatic insufficiency or lung disease necessitating frequent use of antibiotics. A stronger body of evidence is needed as a basis for clinical strategies.
PMCID: PMC1337279  PMID: 7922929
24.  Mapping the Risk of Anaemia in Preschool-Age Children: The Contribution of Malnutrition, Malaria, and Helminth Infections in West Africa 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(6):e1000438.
Ricardo Soares Magalhães and colleagues used national cross-sectional household-based demographic health surveys to map the distribution of anemia risk in preschool children in Burkina Faso, Ghana, and Mali.
Background
Childhood anaemia is considered a severe public health problem in most countries of sub-Saharan Africa. We investigated the geographical distribution of prevalence of anaemia and mean haemoglobin concentration (Hb) in children aged 1–4 y (preschool children) in West Africa. The aim was to estimate the geographical risk profile of anaemia accounting for malnutrition, malaria, and helminth infections, the risk of anaemia attributable to these factors, and the number of anaemia cases in preschool children for 2011.
Methods and Findings
National cross-sectional household-based demographic health surveys were conducted in 7,147 children aged 1–4 y in Burkina Faso, Ghana, and Mali in 2003–2006. Bayesian geostatistical models were developed to predict the geographical distribution of mean Hb and anaemia risk, adjusting for the nutritional status of preschool children, the location of their residence, predicted Plasmodium falciparum parasite rate in the 2- to 10-y age group (Pf PR2–10), and predicted prevalence of Schistosoma haematobium and hookworm infections. In the four countries, prevalence of mild, moderate, and severe anaemia was 21%, 66%, and 13% in Burkina Faso; 28%, 65%, and 7% in Ghana, and 26%, 62%, and 12% in Mali. The mean Hb was lowest in Burkina Faso (89 g/l), in males (93 g/l), and for children 1–2 y (88 g/l). In West Africa, severe malnutrition, Pf PR2–10, and biological synergisms between S. haematobium and hookworm infections were significantly associated with anaemia risk; an estimated 36.8%, 14.9%, 3.7%, 4.2%, and 0.9% of anaemia cases could be averted by treating malnutrition, malaria, S. haematobium infections, hookworm infections, and S. haematobium/hookworm coinfections, respectively. A large spatial cluster of low mean Hb (<80 g/l) and maximal risk of anaemia (>95%) was predicted for an area shared by Burkina Faso and Mali. We estimate that in 2011, approximately 6.7 million children aged 1–4 y are anaemic in the three study countries.
Conclusions
By mapping the distribution of anaemia risk in preschool children adjusted for malnutrition and parasitic infections, we provide a means to identify the geographical limits of anaemia burden and the contribution that malnutrition and parasites make to anaemia. Spatial targeting of ancillary micronutrient supplementation and control of other anaemia causes, such as malaria and helminth infection, can contribute to efficiently reducing the burden of anaemia in preschool children in Africa.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Global estimates for the time period 1993–2005 suggest that that worldwide, nearly 300 million children had anemia, that is, hemoglobin levels less than 110 g/l. In sub-Saharan Africa, two-thirds of all children were anemic, representing 83.5 million children. These statistics are important because anemia in infancy and childhood is associated with poor cognitive development, reduced growth, problems with immune function—and ultimately, decreased survival. Malnutrition (including micronutrient deficiency, especially of iron, vitamin A, vitamin C, and folate), undernutrition, and infectious diseases, particularly HIV, malaria, and helminth infections (caused by hookworm and Schistosoma haematobium—which causes urinary schistosomiasis), are major causes of anemia in children. Although iron supplementation can often correct anemia, in some circumstances, iron deficiency can protect against common infectious agents, and giving iron can, on occasion, increase the severity of infectious disease in some children. Focusing on the treatment and prevention of infectious diseases that cause anemia is therefore an important alternative strategy in the treatment of anemia.
Why Was This Study Done?
Control tools for targeting interventions for malaria and helminth infection in sub-Saharan Africa include modern spatial risk prediction methods that combine statistical models with geographical information systems (similar to those used in car navigation systems). However, to date no studies have used these tools to spatially predict the risk of anemia. Furthermore, the contribution that malnutrition and infections make to the overall anemia burden in Africa is largely unknown. In this study the researchers used these tools to predict the prevalence of anemia in three West African countries and to estimate the attributable risk of anemia due to malnutrition, malaria, and helminth infections.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used geographically linked data from the most recent Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) in Burkina Faso (2003), Ghana (2003), and Mali (2006), which included capillary blood sampling and testing and detailed anthropometric (height and weight) measurements. A total of 7,147 children aged 1–4 years (3,477 girls and 3,670 boys) in the three countries were included in the analysis. The researchers mapped DHS survey locations in the three study countries using DHS cluster coordinates in a geographic information system. Using data from the Malaria Atlas Project, the researchers extracted spatially predicted values of Plasmodium falciparum parasite rate for each DHS cluster using a geographical information system and used previously reported parasitological survey data of hookworm and S. haematobium infections to predict helminth infection risk across the region. Then the researchers developed spatial prediction models using Bayesian statistics to estimate of the population attributable fraction for specific predictors for anemia. Data from the DHS showed that the prevalence of mild, moderate, and severe anemia was 21%, 66%, and 13% in Burkina Faso; 28%, 65%, and 7% in Ghana, and 26%, 62%, and 12% in Mali. The prevalence of stunting, wasting, and being underweight in the study area was 87.8%, 89.7%, and 71.2%, respectively, and the mean P. falciparum parasite rate, and rates of S. haematobium infection, hookworm infection, and S. haematobium/hookworm coinfection for the study area were 52.0%, 26.8%, 8.2%, and 3.6%, respectively. The overall results indicate that in the three countries, approximately 6.7 million children aged 1–4 years have anemia. Severe malnutrition, P. falciparum infection, hookworm infection, S. haematobium infection, and hookworm/S. haematobium coinfection were responsible for an estimated 2.5 million, 1.0 million, 250,000, 285,000, and 61,000 anemia cases, respectively. Central Burkina Faso and southern Ghana had the highest number of anemic children.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These results add insight and detail to anemia prevalence and anemia severity within different geographical areas in three West African countries. The combination of anemia and mean hemoglobin predictive maps identifies communities in West Africa where preschool-age children are at increased risk of morbidity. The use of anemia maps has important practical implications for targeted control in these countries, such as guiding the efficient allocation of nutrient supplements and fortified foods, and enabling risk assessment of anemia due to different causes, which would in turn constitute an evidence base to calculate the best balance between interventions.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000438.
This study is further discussed in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Abdisalan Noor
The WHO Web site has comprehensive information on the worldwide prevalence of anemia
More information on Demographic Health Surveys is available
More information on global predictions of malaria is available
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000438
PMCID: PMC3110251  PMID: 21687688
25.  Prevalence, Types, Risk Factors and Clinical Correlates of Anaemia in Older People in a Rural Ugandan Population 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e78394.
Background
Studies conducted in high income countries have shown that anaemia is a common medical condition among older people, but such data are scarce in Africa. The objectives of this study were to estimate the prevalence, types, risk factors and clinical correlates of anaemia in older people.
Methods
Participants were aged (≥ 50) years recruited from a general population cohort from January 2012 to January 2013. Blood samples were collected for assessing hemoglobin, serum ferritin, serum vitamin B12, serum folate, C-reactive protein, malaria infection and stool samples for assessment of hookworm infection. HIV status was assessed using an algorithm for HIV rapid testing. Questionnaires were used to collect data on sociodemographic characteristics and other risk factors for anaemia.
Results
In total, 1449 people participated (response rate 72.3%). The overall prevalence of anaemia was 20.3 % (95% CI 18.2-22.3%), and this was higher for males (24.1%, 95% CI=20.7-27.7%) than females (17.5%, 95% CI=15.0-20.1%). In males, the prevalence of anaemia increased rapidly with age almost doubling between 50 and 65 years (p-trend<0.001). Unexplained anaemia was responsible for more than half of all cases (59.7%). Anaemia was independently associated with infections including malaria (OR 3.49, 95% CI 1.78-6.82), HIV (OR 2.17, 1.32-3.57) heavy hookworm infection (OR 3.45, 1.73-6.91), low fruit consumption (OR 1.55, 1.05-2.29) and being unmarried (OR 1.37 , 95% CI 1.01-1.89). However, the odds of anaemia were lower among older people with elevated blood pressure (OR 0.47, 95% CI 0.29-0.77).
Conclusion
Anaemia control programmes in Uganda should target older people and should include interventions to treat and control hookworms and educational programs on diets that enhance iron absorption. Clinicians should consider screening older people with HIV or malaria for anaemia. Further studies should be done on unexplained anaemia and serum ferritin levels that predict iron deficiency anaemia in older people.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0078394
PMCID: PMC3806814  PMID: 24194926

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