Folate, vitamin B12 and homocysteine status in an Italian blood donor population

B. Zappacosta, S. Persichilli, L. Iacoviello, A. Di Castelnuovo, M. Graziano, J. Gervasoni, E. Leoncini, G. Cimino, P. Mastroiacovo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and aims: The relevance of folate, other B-vitamins and homocysteine (Hcy) for the occurrence or prevention of several diseases has induced growing interest. Unfortunately, little evidence is available regarding B-vitamin concentrations in Italy.This study evaluated in a region of middle-southern Italy, folate, vitamin B12 and Hcy concentrations and the prevalence of their ideal blood levels. The main determinants of B-vitamins and Hcy were also considered. Methods and results: Male and female blood donors (n=240), aged 18-66 years and living in Molise region (Italy), were enrolled in the study. They completed a brief questionnaire concerning fruit and vegetables intake, physical activity and smoking; serum and red blood cell (RBC) folate and serum vitamin B12 were measured by an immunoassay on an automated analyzer. Total Hcy was measured by high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC).Geometric means of serum folate, RBC folate and serum vitamin B12 were 10.8nmoll-1, 426.0nmoll-1 and 245.0pmoll-1, respectively. Only 22.5%, 24.2% and 16.3% of blood donors showed an adequate level of serum folate, RBC folate or serum vitamin B12 respectively. When a cut-off of RBC folate ≥906nmoll-1 was used no women of childbearing age had adequate levels. A geometric mean of 14.0μmoll-1 was found for total Hcy, with an ideal concentration in 12.1% of subjects. Folate concentration was higher in women and non-smokers and in subjects with higher consumption of fruit and vegetable. Conclusion: This study shows a low-moderate B-vitamins status in middle-southern Italy, associated with an inadequate fruit and vegetable consumption. A public health strategy should be undertaken to encourage a B-vitamin-rich diet with the addition of vitamin supplements or vitamin fortified foods in population subgroups with special needs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)473-480
Number of pages8
JournalNutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2013


  • B-vitamins
  • Diet
  • Folate
  • Homocysteine
  • Lifestyle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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