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Importance of low serum vitamin B12 and red cell folate concentrations in elderly hospital inpatients.
  1. E L Blundell,
  2. J H Matthews,
  3. S M Allen,
  4. A M Middleton,
  5. J E Morris,
  6. S N Wickramasinghe


    To determine the functional importance of the low B12 and red cell folate concentrations repeatedly observed in the elderly 200 consecutive patients admitted to a geriatric unit were studied. Forty six of the patients had low serum concentrations of B12 (15), red cell folate (26), or both (five). Serum B12 and red cell folate concentrations correlated with mean cell volume, and serum B12 correlated with the neutrophil lobe count. Bone marrow deoxyuridine suppression was abnormal in 35% of the patients with low vitamin concentrations, but 55% of those with abnormal deoxyuridine suppression had morphologically normal bone marrow, and 73% had a normal mean cell volume. In patients with low vitamin values the deoxyuridine suppressed value correlated with the haemoglobin concentration and neutrophil lobe count. Thus synthesis of thymidylate was impaired by vitamin B12 or folate deficiency in at least 8% of newly admitted elderly patients, many of whom had normal blood counts despite the biochemical disturbance affecting haemopoiesis. A nutritionally depleted diet may have been responsible for many of the low vitamin values.

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