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. Researchers analyzed food, supplement and total folate intake by age, gender and race/ethnicity from two National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys and found that daily folate consumption increased by 100 micrograms (mcg) since the national fortification requirement. The proportion of women aged 15-44 consuming greater than 400 mcg/day of folate has increased since fortification, but has not yet reached the Food and Drug Administration’s 50 percent target, varying by race/ethnicity from 23 percent to 33 percent.
And while adequate folic acid intake helps protect against birth defects as well as protect 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 over 1,000 mcg/day (the “tolerable upper intake level”) has at least doubled among whites and black men but still remains under 5 percent for all groups.
Source: American Public Health Association (APHA)