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Folic Acid Supplementation in Bread: Boon to Neonates and Curse to Pensioners

Bread loaves would be fortified with certain vitamins, in order to reach out to the needful masses. This week, Government-commissioned report expected// supplementation of folic acid to be made a compulsion in bread would prevent neural tube effects like spina bifida.

But this step could prove to be harmful towards older people as folic acid could mask the vitamin B12 deficiency, thus leading to anemia and nervous problems in the long run.

The pain of the neonates

Every year 750 pregnancies are terminated due to reports of neural tube effects and around 150 kids are born with spina bifida.

If a women was to take 400 micrograms of folic acid from the time they stop contraceptive measures till the 12th gestational week.

Since in UK 50% of the births are unplanned, many mothers do not follow this.

Solution offered by government

40% of these cases can be eradicated by including folate in breads.

Professor Sheila Bingham, chairperson of the Scientific Committee Advisory Committee said that few foods and beverages are already fortified.

She said, "It seems that asking people to take a supplement or relying on them to get sufficient amounts through their diet is not enough."

"That is why after two years of research we recommended that the Government fortify flour with folic acid."

Andrew Russell, chief of association for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus said,"Hundreds of abortions are carried out every year in the UK for spina bifida and a lot of severely disabled babies are still being born.

"It is the poorest and most educationally under privileged who are most at risk of a spina bifida pregnancy.

"Unfortunately relying on women to plan pregnancy and take a folic acid supplement in advance is unrealistic in many cases."

But this can cause problem to pensioners. Hence Dr John Parker-Williams working at St George's Hospital, Lon don said, "People should get their folates from a balanced diet - the best sources are leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, bananas and nuts.”

Sue Croft of Consumers for Health Choice warned, "It is mass medication of 60 million people to benefit a few hundred.”

"If the Government controls your food they control every aspect of your life.

"If you want to improve someone's diet you should give better education and help.

"In matters of health we should be given information so we can make an informed choice, not dictated to all the time."

A spokesperson for aged said, "We would need to see more evidence of how this might affect older people, but generally we would not want to see anything introduced that put the well-being of older people at risk.

"People need to have a choice.

"A lot of pensioners are limited in what they can buy and bread is a staple part of their diet.

"Taking away their choice would cause concern."

Thus since a few in the population are not careful, many have to pay the price.
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