Mandatory Folic Acid Fortification Part 1

February 25, 2010

The selectionSoy Products (Sales) Pty Ltd, both in its own right, and through its position of thought leadership and unique F.G. Robert’s brand product range, actively encourages proper nutrition and always takes a thoughtful and well informed look at any public health improvement initiatives prior to adopting and/or supporting them. However, it believes there are some very serious doubts about the safety and efficacy of the Mandatory Folic Acid Fortification effective of September 2009.

While it is undeniable that optimised folic acid nutrition is vital in the case of child bearing women, as folic acid availability can reduce the risks of neural tube defects in babies including spina bifida, there are also serious risks that the enforced consumption of folic acid may impose adverse health risks upon the wider population.

Scientific modelling indicates that the synthetic form of folate to be used is poorly metabolised and may result in circulating folic acid around the body via the bloodstream. The consequences of which are poorly understood and potentially dangerous.

There is some evidence that folic acid may accelerate various cancers including leukaemia, colorectal, prostrate, breast and pancreatic cancers. Folic acid may also mask Vitamin B12 deficiency which may have serious neurological consequences, particularly in the elderly, if undetected and untreated.

Medical Scientists have also linked folic acid with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Anaemia, Asthma, Autism, Heart attacks, Ectopic pregnancies and Type1 Diabetes and shown that it interferes with the drug treatments in such disorders as Epilepsy, Rheumatoid arthritis, Psoriasis and Malaria.

There are a number of other serious concerns including the practicality of implementation. Firstly the prescribed dosage is higher than the recommended daily intake for most people but will fall short of that required for the target population of pregnant and pre-conceptive women: i.e. the latter will therefore require additional supplementation. This begs the question of why not to supplement this group’s whole folic acid requirement rather than impose MFF on the entire community.

The other problem with mandatory fortification is that it leads to consumers presuming or assuming that their nutritional requirements for folate are being fully met by their diet. The consequence of this is often a net decline in dietary folate levels in targeted population groups. The question also arises as to whether bread is the best or most appropriate form of supplementation as there can be wide variations in the amount of bread consumed by different individuals: some people will obviously overdose while others will not get enough.

In my next blog I will continue to write about the implications of the Mandatory Folic Acid Fortification.

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