Iron, folate and vitamin B12 status of an elderly South African population
OBJECTIVES: To determine the prevalence of anaemia and the haemopoietic nutrient status of older mixed ancestry (coloured) South Africans. DESIGN: A cross-sectional analytic study. SUBJECTS: A random sample of 200 non-institutionalized subjects aged > or = 65 y of age, resident in urban Cape Town, was drawn using a two-stage cluster design. METHODS: Trained fieldworkers interviewed subjects to obtain demographic and lifestyle data. Dietary intake was assessed using a validated food frequency questionnaire. Fasting blood samples were drawn for the determination of haematological parameters, serum vitamin B12, serum folate, RBC folate and a full blood count. RESULTS: The prevalence of anaemia was 13.9. Eight of the 26 cases of anaemia (31) were associated with suboptimal haemopoietic nutrient status; 2(25) and 3(38) cases of these 8 anaemic subjects had suboptimal vitamin B12 and folate status, respectively. Iron deficiency anaemia accounted for 5(63) of the subjects with nutrition-related anaemia. Ten men and two women (6.5 of subjects) had raised serum ferritin concentrations, half of whom had abnormal biochemical parameters indicative of alcohol abuse. CONCLUSIONS: Older coloured South Africans, particularly women, should be encouraged to eat diets with a high nutrient density and to consume adequate amounts of foods high in iron, folate and vitamin B12. Further investigation regarding the high prevalence of hyperferritinaemia found in the men in this population is indicated.