Vitamin status and cognitive function in a long-term care population

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Background: Ageing can be associated with poor dietary intake, reduced nutrient absorption, and less efficient utilization of nutrients. Loss of memory and related cognitive function are also common among older persons. This study aimed to measure the prevalence of inadequate vitamin status among long-term care patients and determine if an association exists between vitamin status and each of three variables; cognitive function, vitamin supplementation, and medications which alter gastric acid levels. Methods: Seventy-five patients in a long-term care hospital in Guelph, Ontario were recruited to a cross-sectional study. 47 were female and the mean age was 80.7 (+/-11.5) years, ranging from 48 to 100 years. Blood was used to measure levels of vitamins B12 (cobalamin), B6 (pyridoxal-5′-phosphate/PLP), erythrocyte folate, vitamin B3 (niacin) and homocysteine (Hcy). The Standardized Mini-Mental State Examination (SMMSE) was administered to measure cognitive function. A list of medications and vitamin supplementation for each patient was provided by the pharmacy. Results: The prevalence of low vitamin (B12, B6, erythrocyte folate, niacin) or high metabolite (homocysteine) levels among 75 patients were as follows: B12 <148 pmol/L in 5/75 (6.7%); B12 between 148 and 221 pmol/L in 26/75 (34.7%); B6 ≤30 nmol/L in 4/75 (5.3%); erythrocyte folate <370 nmol/L in 1/75 (1.3%); niacin ratio ≤1 in 20/75 (26.7%); homocysteine >13.3 μmol/L in 31/75 (41.3%). There was no significant difference among residents grouped into marked (n = 44), mild (n = 14), or normal (n = 9) cognitive function when evaluating the effect of vitamin status. There were no significant differences in mean B12 and homocysteine levels between users and non-users of drug therapy (Losec, Zantac, or Axid). Compared to vitamin supplement non-users, supplemented residents had significantly higher mean B12 (p < 0.0001) and erythrocyte folate (p < 0.05) concentrations and significantly lower mean homocysteine (p < 0.01) levels; 229.1 versus 423.6 pmol/L for B12, 882.9 versus 1043.6 nmol/L for erythrocyte folate and 14.4 versus 12.0 μmol/L for homocysteine. Conclusion: Given the prevalence data on vitamin status in this sample population, the possible benefits of vitamin supplementation should be considered in clinical intervention studies using these populations of elderly. © 2005 Paulionis et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.




Paulionis, L., Kane, S. L., & Meckling, K. A. (2005). Vitamin status and cognitive function in a long-term care population. BMC Geriatrics, 5.

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