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Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Jan;91(1):64-72. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2009.28401. Epub 2009 Oct 14.

Folic acid source, usual intake, and folate and vitamin B-12 status in US adults: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2003-2006.

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Office of Public Health Genomics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA 30333, USA.

Erratum in

  • Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Oct;92(4):1001. Dosage error in article text.



US adults have access to multiple sources of folic acid. The contribution of these sources to usual intakes above the tolerable upper intake level (UL) (1000 microg/d) and to folate and vitamin B-12 status is unknown.


The objective was to estimate usual folic acid intake above the UL and adjusted serum and red blood cell folate, vitamin B-12, methylmalonic acid, and homocysteine concentrations among US adults by 3 major folic acid intake sources-enriched cereal-grain products (ECGP), ready-to-eat cereals (RTE), and supplements (SUP)-categorized into 4 mutually exclusive consumption groups.


We used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2003-2006 (n = 8258).


Overall, 2.7% (95% CI: 1.9%, 3.5%) of adults consumed more than the UL of folic acid. The proportions of those who consumed folic acid from ECGP only, ECGP+RTE, ECGP+SUP, and ECGP+RTE+SUP were 42%, 18%, 25%, and 15%, respectively. Of 60% of adults who did not consume supplements containing folic acid (ECGP only and ECGP+RTE), 0% had intakes that exceeded the UL. Of 34% and 6% of adults who consumed supplements with an average of < or = 400 and >400 microg folic acid/d, <1% and 47.8% (95% CI: 39.6%, 56.0%), respectively, had intakes that exceeded the UL. Consumption of RTE and/or supplements with folic acid was associated with higher folate and vitamin B-12 and lower homocysteine concentrations, and consumption of supplements with vitamin B-12 was associated with lower methylmalonic acid concentrations (P < 0.001).


At current fortification levels, US adults who do not consume supplements or who consume an average of < or =400 microg folic acid/d from supplements are unlikely to exceed the UL in intake for folic acid.

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