Do youngsters, males want folic acid from a capsule?


NEW YORK (Reuters Well being) – With the appearance of folic-acid supplementation of sure meals, few Canadians at the moment are getting too little of the B vitamin, a brand new examine estimates — in findings that query the necessity for kids and males to get further folic acid from nutritional vitamins.

The examine doesn’t problem the necessity for girls of childbearing age to take folic acid dietary supplements, researchers say, since they want additional quantities of the vitamin to scale back the danger of getting a child with neural tube defects — start defects of the mind or backbone, together with spina bifida.

Nor ought to ladies older than 70 really feel a necessity to chop again on folic acid: they have been the one group the examine discovered to have a excessive price of insufficient folate/folic acid consumption. (Folate is the pure type of the B vitamin, present in meals similar to spinach, asparagus, dried beans and peas, and orange juice; folic acid is the artificial kind utilized in vitamin dietary supplements and added to sure “fortified” meals, together with wheat flour and breakfast cereals.)

The examine, revealed within the American Journal of Scientific Diet, is the primary to estimate the nationwide stage of folate inadequacy in Canada because the nation mandated in 1998 that folic acid be added to white wheat flour to assist stop neural tube defects.

Researchers used knowledge from a nationwide survey of greater than 35,000 Canadians to create statistical fashions estimating the prevalence of folate inadequacy in several age teams of ladies, males and kids.

“Inadequacy” implies that an individual is just not getting sufficient whole folate — from meals and dietary supplements — to fulfill the common nutrient wants for his or her age and intercourse, and should run the danger of turning into poor within the vitamin over time.

Based mostly on survey solutions, the researchers estimated how a lot folate and folic acid people have been consuming in meals, and the way a lot further folic acid they have been getting from vitamin dietary supplements.

General, the estimates discovered folate inadequacy to be low — and near zero amongst kids youthful than 14 – with most individuals getting adequate folate and folic acid from meals sources alone.

Amongst males youthful than 70, folate inadequacy was estimated to be underneath 7.5 p.c — and nearly non-existent in males youthful than 50 — primarily based on meals consumption solely.

Amongst aged women and men age 70 or youthful, folate inadequacy was comparatively unusual, being lower than 20 p.c, primarily based on meals consumption alone. And inside that class, simply 10 p.c of ladies ages 19 to 30 have been estimated to be getting insufficient quantities of the vitamin from meals alone.

The one group with what the researchers thought-about a excessive prevalence of folate inadequacy — larger than 20 p.c — was ladies older than 70: even with consumption from folic acid dietary supplements together with meals, 25 p.c of ladies on this age group have been estimated to have folate inadequacy.

Taken collectively, the findings provide some excellent news, in keeping with senior researcher Dr. Deborah L. O’Connor of the Hospital for Sick Youngsters in Toronto. Obligatory folic-acid fortification of white flour has apparently labored properly, she instructed Reuters Well being.


In truth, O’Connor stated, fortification might have been so efficient for sure teams — specifically, kids youthful than 14 and males — that folic acid from vitamin capsules could also be pointless for them.

“There actually is not any purpose to be having folic acid in dietary supplements designed for kids and males,” she stated.

That’s as a result of there are potential dangers to getting an excessive amount of folic acid, O’Connor defined. Excessive folic acid consumption can, for instance, “masks” and worsen any deficiency in vitamin B-12 (though that shouldn’t be an issue if persons are taking a complement that additionally comprises B-12, O’Connor famous).

Research have additionally discovered an affiliation between excessive folic acid consumption and elevated dangers of sure cancers, similar to colon and prostate cancers. These research didn’t, nonetheless, show that folic acid was the explanation for the elevated dangers.

O’Connor stated that nobody ought to “panic” about the opportunity of getting additional folic acid from their multivitamins. However she prompt that oldsters who’re involved about overdoing the nutrient search for kids’s multivitamins that comprise both no folic acid or comparatively low quantities. The identical recommendation goes for males utilizing multivitamins.

The really useful each day consumption of folate from all sources is 150 micrograms (mcg) for kids ages 1 to three; 200 mcg for ages 4 to eight; and 300 mcg for ages 9 to 13. Older teenagers and males are suggested to get 400 mcg.

The higher limits for folate consumption — the degrees past which opposed results would possibly happen — are 1,000 mcg per day for adults and vary from 300 to 800 mcg for kids and teenagers, relying on age group.

On this examine, the researchers estimated that anyplace from 1 p.c to 4 p.c of Canadian kids acquired an excessive amount of folate when meals and complement sources have been mixed. The identical was true for as much as 5 p.c of adults, relying on their intercourse and age group.


The warning on folic acid dietary supplements doesn’t, nonetheless, apply to ladies of childbearing age, in keeping with O’Connor.

Whereas the examine discovered that comparatively few ladies between the ages of 14 and 50 had insufficient folate intakes that put them susceptible to outright deficiency, that doesn’t imply they have been getting sufficient folate to chop the danger of neural tube defects of their infants ought to they turn out to be pregnant.

Solely an estimated 18 p.c of ladies in that age vary have been getting at the very least 400 micrograms of folic acid per day from fortified meals and dietary supplements mixed; consultants suggest that ladies get 400 mcg of folic acid, along with any naturally occurring folate from meals, to assist stop neural tube defects.

O’Connor stated that it’s vital for girls who would possibly turn out to be pregnant to maintain taking supplemental folic acid.

As for girls who’re older than 70, it’s not clear why they nonetheless had a excessive prevalence of folate inadequacy even with complement use taken into consideration. O’Connor stated that extra analysis is required to see whether or not any change in official suggestions for these ladies will probably be vital. (As with grownup males, older ladies are suggested to get 400 mcg of whole folate every day.)

The findings may be related past Canada, in keeping with O’Connor. She famous that research from the U.S. have indicated that folate inadequacy is equally low — however that, as in Canada, solely a minority of ladies of childbearing age get the really useful quantities of folic acid from dietary supplements.

Since 1998, the U.S. has required producers so as to add folic acid to enriched flours, breads, cereals, pasta, corn meal and different grain merchandise.

SOURCE: American Journal of Scientific Diet, on-line August 25, 2010.


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