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J Nutr. 2001 Dec;131(12):3277-80.

Folic acid fortification increases red blood cell folate concentrations in the Framingham study.

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Vitamin Metabolism and Aging Laboratory, and Epidemiology Program, Jean Mayer U.S. Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, Boston, MA 02111, USA.


In 1996 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a regulation to take effect in January 1998 that all enriched cereal grain products include 140 microg of folic acid/100 g. The present cross-sectional study was undertaken to assess the effect of this fortification on RBC folate concentrations in the Framingham Offspring Cohort. Among those who did not take B-vitamin supplements, we compared RBC folate in 561 individuals who were examined before implementation of the FDA mandatory folic acid fortification (not exposed) vs. 354 individuals who were examined after implementation of fortification (exposed). We calculated the prevalence of deficient (<160 microg/L, 362.6 nmol/L) and acceptable (>200 microg/L, 453.2 nmol/L) RBC folate concentrations in both groups. Those exposed to folic acid fortification had a mean RBC folate of 450.0 microg/L (1019.7 nmol/L), a value 38% higher than the mean RBC folate of 325.3 microg/L (737.1 nmol/L) in those who were not exposed to fortification (P < 0.001). The prevalence of individuals with deficient RBC folate was 4.9% in the group not exposed to fortification compared with 1.9% in the group exposed to fortification (P < 0.02), and the prevalence of individuals with acceptable RBC folate was 87.0% in the group not exposed to fortification compared with 96.1% in the group exposed to fortification (P < 0.001). Similar results were seen in individuals who used supplements containing B-vitamins. The results of this study showed that in this cohort, the introduction of folic acid fortification significantly improved folate nutritional status measured as RBC folate.

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