Suboptimal Biochemical Riboflavin Status Is Associated with Lower Hemoglobin and Higher Rates of Anemia in a Sample of Canadian and Malaysian Women of Reproductive Age

Abeer M. Aljaadi, Ru En How, Su Peng Loh, Shannon E. Hunt, Crystal D. Karakochuk, Susan I. Barr, Liadhan McAnena, Mary Ward, Helene McNulty, Geok Lin Khor, Angela M. Devlin, Tim J. Green

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20 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Riboflavin is required for several redox reactions. Clinical riboflavin deficiency occurs mainly in low-income countries, where it is associated with anemia. The functional significance of suboptimal riboflavin status in different populations and its role in anemia is not well understood. 

Objectives: We assessed the biomarker status of riboflavin and its association with hemoglobin concentration and anemia in women living in Vancouver, Canada, and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 

Methods: Healthy nonpregnant, nonbreastfeeding women (19-45 y) were recruited from Canada (n = 206) and Malaysia (n = 210) via convenience sampling. Fasting blood was collected to assess riboflavin status [erythrocyte glutathione reductase activity coefficient (EGRac)], hematological indicators, soluble transferrin receptor (sTfR), ferritin, Vitamin A, folate, and Vitamin B-12 concentrations. Linear and logistic regression models were used to assess the association of riboflavin status with hemoglobin concentration and anemia. 

Results: EGRac (mean ± SD) values were higher, indicating poorer riboflavin status, in Malaysian compared with Canadian women (1.49 ± 0.17 compared with 1.38 ± 0.11). Likewise, riboflavin biomarker deficiency (EGRac ≥1.40) was significantly more prevalent among Malaysians than Canadians (71% compared with 40%). More Malaysian than Canadian women were anemic (hemoglobin <120 g/L; 18% compared with 7%). With use of linear regression (pooled sample; n = 416), EGRac values were negatively associated with hemoglobin concentration (r =-0.18; P < 0.001). This relation remained significant (P = 0.029) after adjusting for age, parity, ethnicity, Vitamin B-12, folate, sTfR, ferritin, and Vitamin A. Women with riboflavin deficiency (EGRac ≥1.40) were twice as likely to present with anemia (adjusted OR: 2.38; 95% CI: 1.08, 5.27) compared with women with EGRac <1.40. 

Conclusions: Biochemical riboflavin deficiency was observed in Canadian and Malaysian women, with higher rates of deficiency among Malaysian women. Deficient biomarker status of riboflavin was a weak but significant predictor of hemoglobin and anemia, suggesting that the correction of riboflavin deficiency may potentially play a small protective role in anemia, but this requires further investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1952-1959
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Volume149
Issue number11
Early online date18 Jul 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • anemia
  • Canada
  • EGRac
  • Malaysia
  • riboflavin
  • women

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