A cross-sectional nutritional survey was carried out on 350 elderly Malays aged 60 and above from 11 randomly selected villages in a rural area on the East Coast of Malaysia. The findings indicated that the mean intakes of energy and all of the nutrients investigated were below the Malaysian Recommended Dietary Allowances, excepts for protein and vitamin C. Nutrients most likely to be inadequate were vitamin A, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and calcium, with more than 50% of the subjects having estimated intakes of below 2/3 of the recommendations. However, vitamin A status was adequate, with only 2 subjects being biochemically deficient (plasma retinol < or = 0.7 mmol/l). Approximately a third of the subjects had hypoalbuminaemia (plasma albumin < 3.3 g/dl) and anaemia (Haemoglobin < 12 g/dl for men; < 13 g/dl for women). Riboflavin deficiency, as assessed by an erythrocyte glutathione reductase activation coefficient (EGRAC) of more than 1.35 was identified in 77% of the subjects. The prevalence of vitamin E deficiency (plasma a-tocopherol < or = 12 mmol/l) was 27%, with men being at a greater risk. In conclusion, the dietary intakes of these rural elderly Malays was inadequate. Over three quarters of the sample were biochemically deficient in riboflavin, the functional consequences of which need to be further investigated.
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