Journal of the American Dietetic Association | VOL. 97

Folate Nutrition and Older Adults: Challenges and Opportunities

Publication Date Feb 1, 1997


Folate fortification of bread and grains has been directed to prevent neural tube birth defects. Research has also challenged previous concepts of folate nutritional status and suggested that folate may play a role in reducing the risk of vascular disease. Although folate status of many elderly people is adequate according to traditional, hematologic criteria, some elderly persons have elevated blood concentrations of the metabolite homocysteine, which indicates subclinical deficiency of folate or vitamin B-12. Higher homocysteine concentrations, even within the normal range, are associated with increased risk of vascular disease. Elderly people with better folate and vitamin B-12 status have lower homocysteine concentrations and may have lower risk for vascular disease. Although the new folate fortification rules provide the benefit of increasing folate in the food supply, they could be a risk for the elderly because excess folate intake can mask vitamin B-12 deficiency, thereby delaying diagnosis. Elderly people have a higher prevalence of vitamin B-12 deficiency as a result of absorption problems. Those deficient in vitamin B-12 should be treated to prevent irreversible neurologic damage. Modern approaches to screening the elderly include using higher cutoff points for serum vitamin B-12 and obtaining blood concentrations of the metabolite methylmalonic acid, which is elevated in deficiency of vitamin B-12 but not folate. To examine current folate intake and food sources, food frequency questionnaires were administered to...

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Mean Folate Intake
Lower Homocysteine Concentration
Folate Intake
Deficiency Of Vitamin
Homocysteine Concentrations
Elderly People
Higher Prevalence Of Vitamin
Risk Of Vascular Disease
Higher Homocysteine Concentrations
Dark Bread

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