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Making Fortification Mandatory In Order To Reduce Birth Defects

Based on findings of a recent study researchers say fortifying milk with folic acid //could offer an accessible source of the vitamin. Although adding folic acid to foods is not currently permitted in many European markets, in some places like US and Canada it is still added to flour order to prevent neural tube defects in babies.

Ireland is currently consulting on whether it too should encourage the introduction of some fortified foods or implement mandatory fortification as a means of stemming its high rate of birth defects.

A new study shows that milk could be another application for increasing intake of the vitamin, as well as the bread and cereal products that are already enriched with folic acid through fortified flour in some markets. For the study 69 healthy adults were recruited for a four-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled intervention study. In addition to a fully controlled diet, the subjects consumed 500ml of pasteurised or UHT milk, either fortified with 200mcg of folic acid or not fortified.

It was seen that those who consumed the fortified milk increased folate concentrations in serum and in red blood cells and had lowered plasma homocysteine levels.Thus researchers say milk is indeed a suitable matrix for fortification to enhance the folate status in humans. However researchers say to compare whether milk or bread would be a more effective source of the vitamin, a comparative study would be required.

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