Vitamin B12 Status of Various Ethnic Groups Living in New Zealand: an Analysis of the Adult Nutrition Survey 2008/2009
Vitamin B12 deficiency leads to serious health problems, whilst sub-optimal status is associated with raised biochemical markers of disease risk. Identifying at-risk groups could benefit both individuals and public health. Dietary data were sourced from the New Zealand Adult Nutrition Survey 2008/2009, involving a nationally representative sample of 4721 participants. Ethnic groupings were by regional origin: Māori and Pacific Islands, New Zealand European, East and South-East Asian, and South Asian. Diets were assessed using 24-h recalls and from responses to a questionnaire. Blood samples were obtained from a subset (n = 3348). The mean (95% CI) vitamin B12 intake of the Māori and Pacific Islands group was 5.1 (4.7, 5.5) µg/day, New Zealand Europeans 4.1 (3.8, 4.3) µg/day, East and South-East Asians 4.5 (3.7, 5.3) µg/day, and South Asians 3.0 (2.5, 3.6) µg/day. Overall, 20.1% of the sample had vitamin B12 inadequacy (<221 pmol/L). South Asians had the lowest vitamin B12 concentration at 282 (251, 312) pmol/L, whilst Māori/Pacific and East/South-East Asians had the highest, at 426 (386, 466) and 425 (412, 437) pmol/L, respectively. The main dietary determinant of serum vitamin B12 concentration was whether or not people ate red meat, with a regression coefficient of 27.0 (95% CI: 6.6, 47.5). It would be helpful for health agencies to be aware of the potential for compromised vitamin B12 status in South Asian communities.