Nutritional Intake and Status of Cobalamin and Folate among Non-Pregnant Women of Reproductive Age in Bhaktapur, Nepal
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Cobalamin and folate are especially important for women of childbearing age due to their ubiquitous role in fetal growth and development. Population-based data on cobalamin and folate status are lacking from Nepal, where diets are mostly vegetarian. The objectives of the study were to investigate cobalamin and folate intake and status, and to explore associations with socio-demographics, anthropometrics, anemia, and dietary habits. Following a random selection of geographical clusters, we collected blood samples from 500 non-pregnant women and 24-h dietary recalls and food frequency questionnaires from a subsample of 379 women. Twenty percent of the women did not consume any food containing cobalamin during the days recalled, and in 72% nutritional cobalamin intake was <1 μg/day. Eighty-four percent of the women had cobalamin intake lower than the estimated average requirement (EAR) (<2 μg/day). In contrast, only 12% of the women had a folate intake less than 100 μg per day, whereas 62% had intake between 100 and 320 μg. Low plasma cobalamin (<150 pmol/L) was found in 42% of the women, most of whom (88%) also had elevated levels of methylmalonic acid. Our results indicated a high prevalence of nutritional cobalamin deficiency, while folate deficiency was uncommon.