Determinants of folate and vitamin B12 plasma levels in the French E3N-EPIC cohort

Jordi de Batlle*, Marco Matejcic, Veronique Chajes, Hortensia Moreno-Macias, Amina Amadou, Nadia Slimani, David G. Cox, Françoise Clavel-Chapelon, Guy Fagherazzi, Isabelle Romieu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Impaired B vitamin status has been identified as a risk factor for major chronic diseases. This study aims at examining the determinants of plasma folate and vitamin B12 concentrations, considering lifestyle factors and MTHFR polymorphisms. Methods: A total of 988 women aged 40–65 years from the French E3N cohort were investigated. Intakes of folate and vitamin B12 were assessed using food frequency questionnaires, and plasma concentrations were measured by microbiological assay. Dietary scores were computed to summarize folate and vitamin B12 dietary sources. MTHFR-C677T and MTHFR-A1298C were determined by Kaspar assay. Pearson’s partial correlation coefficients and multivariable linear regression models were used to assess correlations between main determinants and plasma folate and vitamin B12 levels. Results: The partial correlation coefficient between dietary intakes and plasma folate was 0.19 (p value OpenSPiltSPi0.001) and 0.08 (p value = 0.008) for vitamin B12. Dietary scores were the main determinant of B vitamin plasma concentrations with a percent change per unit increase of 12.64% (p value OpenSPiltSPi0.001) for folate and 7.6% (p value OpenSPiltSPi0.001) for vitamin B12. Homozygous (T/T) or heterozygous (C/T) women for MTHFR-C677T had lower plasma folate concentrations [C/T: −6.48% (p value = 0.038) and T/T: −15.89% (p value OpenSPiltSPi0.001)] compared to women carrying the C/C genotype. Other determinants of B vitamin plasma concentration include: smoking status for folate, and age and hormone replacement therapy for vitamin B12. Conclusions: We confirmed previous findings on the role of diet as main determinant of folate and vitamin B12 plasma concentrations. However, the impact of genetic polymorphisms and lifestyle factors on plasma B vitamin concentrations should not be neglected.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)751-760
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Nutrition
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Biomarkers
  • Dietary intake
  • Folate
  • MTHFR polymorphisms
  • Vitamin B12


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