FRIDAY, June 10 (HealthDay News) -- Consuming high amounts of
folate -- through supplements and foods fortified with folic acid
-- does not disrupt a healthy body's use of vitamin B12, according
to new research.
Folic acid -- the synthetic form of the vitamin folate -- is
added to grain products in the United States to reduce women's risk
of conceiving a child with a neural tube birth defect. But some
worry that folic acid levels in these foods may be too high for
other people. Their concerns stem from studies that found that
people with low B12 levels and high folate levels were more likely
to have anemia than those with low B12 levels and normal folate
B12 is needed to make red blood cells, and people with low
levels of B12 can develop anemia, as well as numbness and tingling
in the hands and feet.
The new study found, however, that anemia and other problems
related to low levels of vitamin B12 were not likely to get worse
with higher intake of folic acid.
It included more than 2,500 university students who reported the
amount and type of folic acid-fortified foods and folic acid
supplements they consumed in the previous week and in an average
month. Blood samples collected from the participants showed that
about 5 percent were B12 deficient. Of the students with low B12
levels, there was no significant difference in rates of anemia
between those with high and those with low folate levels.
The study, conducted by researchers at the U.S. National
Institute of Child Health and Human Development and five other
institutions in the United States, Ireland and Norway, was
published online June 8 in the
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
"Our findings are reassuring for people who have low vitamin B12 levels," Dr. James L. Mills, the study's first author, said in a U.S. National Institutes of Health news release. "We found no evidence that folate could worsen their health problems."
Natural sources of folate include leafy green vegetables, citrus
fruits and beans.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more