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Folic acid intake still falls short of goals.

A national mandate to fortify all U.S. enriched grain products with folic acid has led to an overall intake of the nutrient, yet consumption still falls far short of federal targets and varies greatly among different populations, according to a study in the November issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

The Food and Drug Administration mandated folic acid fortification of U.S. enriched grain products in 1998 with the goal of reducing the number of babies born with neural tube defects. In the new journal study, researchers analyzed food, supplement and total folate intake by age, gender, and race and ethnicity using data from two National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys and found that daily folate consumption increased by 100 micrograms since the national fortification requirement. The proportion of women ages 15-44 consuming greater than 400 mcg/day of folate has increased since fortification but has not yet reached FDA's 50 percent target, varying by race and ethnicity from 23 percent to 33 percent. Intake remains lower among blacks and Mexican Americans when compared to whites.

While adequate folic acid intake helps protect against birth defects as well as against heart disease and colon cancer, consuming too much of the nutrient can mask the anemia caused by vitamin B-12 deficiency among the elderly. The study found that since folic acid fortification of U.S. grains, the percent of people ages 65 and older consuming more than 1,000 mcg/day--the "tolerable upper intake level"--has at least doubled among whites and black men but still remains less than 5 percent for all groups. (Page 2,040)
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Title Annotation:JOURNAL WATCH: Highlights from the November issue of the American Journal of Public Health
Author:Arias, Donya C.
Publication:The Nation's Health
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2006
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