Folic acid has been added to food as part of the US government fortification program, with particular benefits for pregnant women  [1], cardiovascular , and neuro-degenerative diseases, [2] and  Multiple Sclerosis.  Elsewhere, the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) recommends Folate or its synthetic form, Folic acid and claims that “…The risk of toxicity from Folic acid intake from supplements and/or fortified foods is also low..”

Asparagus: A Good Folate source

The Office of Dietary Supplements  further discusses the benefits of Folate in a detailed entry[3].  The American Dietary Association further quantifies the equivalency of Folate and Folic Acid”

“…  Folate equivalents provided by fortified foods equal the micrograms of food folate plus 1.7 times the micrograms of added folic acid…]

So the public is told that there is equivalency. Is there?

  • Folic Acid is questioned as a prostate cancer risk [5]
  • Folic Acid is not fully metabolized [6], but Folate is.

So the government happily adds Folate to the list of the food fortification program. We have already raised a flag about Calcium fortification [7]

Fortification is by definition a shotgun approach treating all sorts of genetic background alike: Men, women, races…. Fortification need mass production to fortify all sorts of foods, so the recourse to synthetic “equivalent” is almost guaranteed.  Finally , even though the program started to compensate the destruction of some essential nutrients by heavy industrial productions, synthetic nutrients are now added to foods they do not belong to: For example Calcium in orange juice.

So if outright ban of synthetics is unlikely because of economical reasons, we should ask for more stringent proof of equivalency, and no supplements should be added to food they do not belong  to  as a commercial bait….

Sources:

  1. CDC ; “Folic acid home page”
  2. Sub-cellular  Biochemistry ; “Enzymatic and Non-enzymatic Antioxidative Effects of Folic Acid and Its Reduced Derivates” ; 2012
  3. Office of Dietary Supplements ; Folate 
  4. Journal of American Dietetic Association ; “Dietary folate equivalents: interpretation and application.” ; Jan 2000
  5. BMJ Open ; ” Cancer risk with folic acid supplements: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” ; Jan 2012
  6. designsforhealth ; Part I  ; Folates vs Folic Acid
  7. medinewsdigest; “IN DEPTH: About Heart Risks, Calcium, and Food Fortification” ; July, 2012

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