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(Philadelphia, PA) Growing older carries more risks, among them the risk for vitamin B-12 deficiency. For most people, B-12 deficiency is more commonly associated with anemia than with its more subtle but potentially grave complications. Emerging evidence points to B-12 deficiency as an increasingly common reason behind high levels of homocysteine in the blood.

While homocysteine, a non-essential amino acid, is normally present in low concentrations in the blood, individuals with high levels have a significantly greater risk for cardiovascular diseases, although the direct link has not yet been established. What is known, however, is that cardiovascular diseases are responsible for nearly half of all deaths in the US each year.

What are the possible adverse consequences from vitamin B-12 deficiency? Which populations are most at risk and is there another vitamin deficiency of equal concern? These and other questions are part of a presentation entitled "Vitamin B-12: Deficiency, Evolution in Diagnosis, and At-Risk Populations" being given by Ralph Green, MD, Professor and Chair of the Department of Pathology at the University of California-Davis Health System, and Pathologist-in-Chief at the University of California-Davis Medical Center, Sacramento, CA. Dr. Green is offering his remarks during the 55th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC) in Philadelphia, PA, July 20-24, 2003. More than 16,000 attendees are expected.

Background

The normal metabolism of homocysteine requires at least three, and probably four, vitamins: vitamin B-12, folic acid, vitamin B-6, and riboflavin. As with deficiencies of B-12, deficiencies of folic acid (folate) can cause high levels of homocysteine. The metabolism of these two vitamins is closely intertwined and deficiency of either one produces identical effects of anemia. Deficiencies of both are commonly found among the elderly. While alike, and work hand-in-hand to
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Contact: Donna Krupa
djkrupa1@aol.com
703-527-7357
American Association for Clinical Chemistry
21-Jul-2003


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