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Women's Folic Acid Levels Improving
Date:9/14/2007

ly, 4 milligrams daily was considered suitable, but a Hungarian study in the early 1990s found successful reductions in the occurrence of neural tube defects at a daily dose of only 0.8 milligrams, noted Dr. Tsunenobu Tamura, a professor of nutrition sciences at the University of Alabama, Birmingham.

"I don't think the 'more the better' idea is correct," he said. "We don't need to have more than enough. If we take too much, there is a kind of suggestive data trend in the research showing that we may promote cancer occurrence."

Tamura said the CDC study is an important step toward monitoring folic acid and the ongoing impact of the U.S. fortification program. But a systematic study is also required to identify any potential side effects, he said.

"We need to have monitoring of how much we are eating and whether there is any danger of giving too much folic acid to the general population," Tamura said. Factors such as how much enriched grain someone consumes and the use of supplements, such as power drinks that contain folic acid, can make a difference in levels, he believes.

The fortification program "is a great thing we've achieved, but we should be very careful," Tamura said.

More information

Find out more about nutrition at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.



SOURCES: Christine M. Pfeiffer Ph.D., acting branch chief, Nutritional Biomarkers Branch, division of laboratory sciences, National Center for Environmental Health, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta; Michael Katz, M.D., senior vice president for research and global programs, March of Dimes, and Columbia University professor emeritus of pediatrics, New York City; Malika Shah, M.D., neonatologist, Children's Memorial Hospital, and assistant professor, medicine, Fein
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