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Serum homocysteine concentration as a marker of nutritional status of healthy subjects in Crete, Greece

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Abstract Background 

Dietary habits are an important determinant of serum homocysteine (tHcy), which may be a marker rather than a cause of progression of the atherosclerotic process. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the nutritional status, and to determine the serum tHcy concentrations in healthy subjects who live in rural areas of Crete, and who theoretically follow a contemporary Mediterranean-style diet. Methods 

Serum tHcy, folate, vitamin B12, creatinine, glucose, and the lipid profile, were measured in 203 (141 men and 62 women) healthy subjects, aged 33–78 years. The major risk factors for cardiovascular disease such as age, gender, cigarette smoking, obesity were recorded and dietary data were assessed using a 3-day weighed food intake record. Results 

Our population had high serum tHcy, low serum folate concentrations and lower than the traditional Cretan dietary folate intake [median (range): 12.0 (3.6–44.7) mol L−1, 7.9 (1.9–15.5) ng mL−1 and 241 (68–1106) g, respectively]. Dietary intake of fibre, omega-3, and mono- or/ polyunsaturated fatty acids was also low. An inverse relation was observed between serum tHcy concentrations and serum folate (r = −0.28; P < 0.01) and vitamin B12 levels (r = −0.33; P < 0.001). Conclusions 

Nowadays, the Cretan diet has changed towards a more westernized eating pattern. Given the analytic difficulties in determining the amount of folate in food and the inverse correlation between serum tHcy and folate levels, serum tHcy concentrations may be a useful marker for nutritional status, especially folate deficiency, in healthy subjects.
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Keywords: Mediterranean diet; cardiovascular risk; dietary habits; folate; homocysteine

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Internal Medicine University Hospital of Heraklion, Heraklion, Crete, Greece 2: Department of Clinical Chemistry University Hospital of Heraklion, Heraklion, Crete, Greece

Publication date: 01 April 2006

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