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1.  Assessing vitamin status in large population surveys by measuring biomarkers and dietary intake – two case studies: folate and vitamin D 
Food & Nutrition Research  2012;56:10.3402/fnr.v56i0.5944.
The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) provides the most comprehensive assessment of the health and nutrition status of the US population. Up-to-date reference intervals on biomarkers and dietary intake inform the scientific and public health policy communities on current status and trends over time.
The main purpose of dietary assessment methods such as the food-frequency questionnaire, food record (or diary), and 24-hr dietary recall is to estimate intake of nutrients and, together with supplement usage information, describe total intake of various foods or nutrients. As with all self-reporting methods, these tools are challenging to use and interpret. Yet, they are needed to establish dietary reference intake recommendations and to evaluate what proportion of the population meets these recommendations. While biomarkers are generally expensive and, to some degree, invasive, there is no question as to their ability to assess nutrition status. In some cases biomarkers can also be used to assess intake or function, although rarely can one biomarker fulfill all these purposes. For example, serum folate is a good indicator of folate intake, red blood cell (RBC) folate is a good status indicator, and plasma total homocysteine is a good functional indicator of one-carbon metabolism.
Using folate and vitamin D – two vitamins that are currently hotly debated in the public health arena – as two case studies, we discuss the complexities of using biomarkers and total intake information to assess nutrition status. These two examples also show how biomarkers and intake provide different information and how both are needed to evaluate and set public health policy. We also provide guidance on general requirements for using nutrition biomarkers and food and supplement intake information in longitudinal, population-based surveys.
PMCID: PMC3321254  PMID: 22489219
nutrition survey; NHANES; monitoring; trend; biochemical indicator; nutrition status; food intake; dietary questionnaire; folate; vitamin D
2.  Overview of a roundtable on NHANES monitoring of biomarkers of folate and vitamin B-12 status: measurement procedure issues123456 
A roundtable dialogue to discuss “NHANES Monitoring of Biomarkers of Folate and Vitamin B-12 Status” took place in July 2010. This article provides an overview of the meeting and this supplement issue. Although the focus of the roundtable dialogue was on the measurement of folate and vitamin B-12 status biomarkers in NHANES, this article also describes the relevance and importance of these issues for clinical and research laboratories. The roundtable identified the microbiological assay (MA) as the gold standard for measurement of serum and red blood cell folate concentrations. The roundtable noted that differences in results between the Bio-Rad Quantaphase II procedure (Bio-Rad Laboratories, Hercules, CA) that NHANES 1991–1994 and 1999–2006 used and the MA that NHANES 2007–2010 used will require adjustment equations to evaluate time trends. The roundtable found that the close agreement between the serum results for the MA and liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) procedures supported the conversion to LC-MS/MS for serum folate in future NHANES. The roundtable recognized the uncertainty about whether subclinical vitamin B-12 deficiency is a public health concern but encouraged reinstatement of at least one circulating vitamin B-12 measure and one functional vitamin B-12 status measure in future NHANES. The use of serum vitamin B-12 and plasma methylmalonic acid would provide continuity with past NHANES. The roundtable supported the continued use of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) reference materials in NHANES biomarker analyses and the further development of additional reference materials by the NIST.
PMCID: PMC3127514  PMID: 21593504
3.  Folate and vitamin B-12 biomarkers in NHANES: history of their measurement and use12345 
NHANES measured folate and vitamin B-12 status biomarkers, starting with serum folate from NHANES I (1974–1975) through 2010. Subsequent NHANES measured additional biomarkers [eg, red blood cell folate, serum vitamin B-12, total homocysteine (tHcy), methylmalonic acid, serum folic acid, and 5-methyltetrahydrofolic acid]. Examples of the uses of these data are wide ranging and include public policy applications, the derivation of reference intervals, and research. Periodically, the National Center for Health Statistics and its federal partners convene expert panels to review the use of the folate- and vitamin B-12–related biomarkers in NHANES. These panels have evaluated the need for results to be comparable across time and with published data and the use of crossover studies and adjustment equations to ensure comparability. With the recent availability of reference methods and materials for serum folate and tHcy, NHANES has started to use traceability approaches to enhance the accuracy and comparability of its results. A major user concern over the years has been the use of cutoffs to estimate the prevalence of inadequate folate and vitamin B-12 status. Because these cutoffs depend on the measurement procedure, several expert panels suggested approaches for dealing with cutoff challenges. This review summarizes the history and use of folate- and vitamin B-12–related biomarkers beginning with NHANES I (1974–1975) through 2010.
PMCID: PMC3127520  PMID: 21593508
4.  Biomarkers of folate status in NHANES: a roundtable summary123456 
A roundtable to discuss the measurement of folate status biomarkers in NHANES took place in July 2010. NHANES has measured serum folate since 1974 and red blood cell (RBC) folate since 1978 with the use of several different measurement procedures. Data on serum 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5MTHF) and folic acid (FA) concentrations in persons aged ≥60 y are available in NHANES 1999–2002. The roundtable reviewed data that showed that folate concentrations from the Bio-Rad Quantaphase II procedure (Bio-Rad Laboratories, Hercules, CA; used in NHANES 1991–1994 and NHANES 1999–2006) were, on average, 29% lower for serum and 45% lower for RBC than were those from the microbiological assay (MA), which was used in NHANES 2007–2010. Roundtable experts agreed that these differences required a data adjustment for time-trend analyses. The roundtable reviewed the possible use of an isotope-dilution liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) measurement procedure for future NHANES and agreed that the close agreement between the MA and LC-MS/MS results for serum folate supported conversion to the LC-MS/MS procedure. However, for RBC folate, the MA gave 25% higher concentrations than did the LC-MS/MS procedure. The roundtable agreed that the use of the LC-MS/MS procedure to measure RBC folate is premature at this time. The roundtable reviewed the reference materials available or under development at the National Institute of Standards and Technology and recognized the challenges related to, and the scientific need for, these materials. They noted the need for a commutability study for the available reference materials for serum 5MTHF and FA.
PMCID: PMC3127517  PMID: 21593502
5.  Biomarkers of vitamin B-12 status in NHANES: a roundtable summary123456 
A roundtable to discuss the measurement of vitamin B-12 (cobalamin) status biomarkers in NHANES took place in July 2010. NHANES stopped measuring vitamin B-12–related biomarkers after 2006. The roundtable reviewed 3 biomarkers of vitamin B-12 status used in past NHANES—serum vitamin B-12, methylmalonic acid (MMA), and total homocysteine (tHcy)—and discussed the potential utility of measuring holotranscobalamin (holoTC) for future NHANES. The roundtable focused on public health considerations and the quality of the measurement procedures and reference methods and materials that past NHANES used or that are available for future NHANES. Roundtable members supported reinstating vitamin B-12 status measures in NHANES. They noted evolving concerns and uncertainties regarding whether subclinical (mild, asymptomatic) vitamin B-12 deficiency is a public health concern. They identified the need for evidence from clinical trials to address causal relations between subclinical vitamin B-12 deficiency and adverse health outcomes as well as appropriate cutoffs for interpreting vitamin B-12–related biomarkers. They agreed that problems with sensitivity and specificity of individual biomarkers underscore the need for including at least one biomarker of circulating vitamin B-12 (serum vitamin B-12 or holoTC) and one functional biomarker (MMA or tHcy) in NHANES. The inclusion of both serum vitamin B-12 and plasma MMA, which have been associated with cognitive dysfunction and anemia in NHANES and in other population-based studies, was preferable to provide continuity with past NHANES. Reliable measurement procedures are available, and National Institute of Standards and Technology reference materials are available or in development for serum vitamin B-12 and MMA.
PMCID: PMC3127527  PMID: 21593512

Results 1-5 (5)