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J Nutr. 1996 Mar;126(3):751S-755S.

More folic acid for everyone, now.

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  • 1Division of Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, National Center for Environmental Health,Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA 30341-3724, USA.


Research during the last 5 years has made it clear that people who do not take folic acid supplements are at increased risk for functional folate deficiency, which has been proven to cause spina bifida and anencephaly and also has been associated with an increased risk for occlusive cardiovascular disease. The overriding folate policy issue is how to increase dramatically the folate consumption of 75% of the population who are now consuming 0.4 mg of folic acid in a supplement. The most expeditious way to increase consumption is through fortification of a food staple. Public health programs are also needed to educate people about the vital importance of increased consumption of folic acid vitamin supplements and of food rich in natural folates. It is urgent that fortification of cereal-grain products be implemented now. The level proposes by FDA would accomplish some prevention, but much more prevention would occur if the fortification were 2.5 times that level. Fortification at the higher level would prevent about 1000 spina bifida and anencephaly birth defects each year and perhaps as many as 50,000 premature deaths each year from coronary disease. Available data have not demonstrated that increasing consumption of folic acid by 0.1 to 0.25 mg of folic acid a day is harmful. If a policy needs to be established on the assumption that people who take vitamin supplements could be harmed, a good policy option ia available; require that all folic acid vitamin supplements also contain 0.4 mg of vitamin B-12.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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