Impact of vitamins B12, B6 and folate supplementation on cardiovascular risk markers in an elderly community of Sharpeville
Grobler, Christina Johanna
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Background: In a vulnerable low-income group with a confirmed high risk of cardiovascular disease, like the elderly in the Sharpeville care centre, an acute intervention is needed in order to improve their health profile. Previous studies suggested homocysteine lowering by vitamin B12, B6 and folate supplementation. The effect of vitamin B12, B6 and folate supplementation on the inflammatory response, thrombotic risk, lipid profile, hypertension, risk of metabolic syndrome and homocysteine metabolism in an elderly, black South African population has never been reported. Objectives: The main aim of this interventional study was to assess the effect of vitamins B12, B6 and folate supplementation at 200% RDA for six months on cardiovascular risk markers of an elderly semi-urbanised black South African community. Design: This study was an experimental intervention non-equivalent control group study design in 104 purposively selected samples of all the elderly attending the day-care centre. Setting and participants: A homogeneous group of respondents was included in the study. All subjects were equivalent in age (>60 years), race (black), unemployed/pensioners (socio-demographic) and 60 years and older attending a day care centre in Sharpeville, situated in the Vaal region, Gauteng, SA. Measurements: The distinctiveness of this study lies in the broad panel of parameters evaluating the CVR in correlation with the increased nutritional intake of vitamin B6, B12 and folate. These included: weight, height, waist, serum cholesterol, high density lipoprotein (HDL), low-density lipoprotein (LDL), triglycerides, blood pressure, fibrinogen, high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (HS–CRP), homocysteine, vitamin B12, folate, glucose, insulin, adiponectin and fibronectin. Results: A very high incidence (66.36%) of hyperhomocysteinaemia is present in the sample. The mean serum homocysteine level in hyperhomocysteinaemic individuals decreased statistically significantly from 25.00±8.00 umol/l to 18.80±12.00 umol/l after the intervention. The number of respondents with an increased homocysteine level decreased from 100% (baseline) to 67% (follow-up). The supplementation was beneficial (statistically significant changes) to the glucose levels, fibrinolytic status, vitamin B6 serum levels, fibronectin levels and haemopoeiesis (decreased macrocytosis) of all the individuals (regardless of their homocysteine status). Conclusion: It is concluded that supplementation of vitamins B6, B12 and folate at 200% RDA for six months is an effective homocysteine-lowering approach as a strategy to reduce hyperhomocysteinaemia in an elderly population and thereby reduce cardiovascular risk (CVR). The supplementation intervention mentioned is not an effective multifactorial strategy to decrease CVR although beneficial effects were found with other CVR markers independent of homocysteine status.