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Absorption of food folate better than expected

A new study has found that the absorption of the natural form of folic acid present in foods, called folate, relative to folic acid capsules, is better than expected.

Folic acid is an important nutrient for a variety of reasons. During pregnancy, an adequate folic acid status guards against the risk of foetal abnormalities. In late adulthood, high blood levels of folic acid could lower the risk of heart disease. The natural form of folic acid present in foods, folate, is known to be more bioavailable than folic acid capsules. Bioavailability is a term used to describe how well the body can absorb and utilise a nutrient present in foods.

This means that foods rich in folate e.g. orange juice, fruits, green leafy vegetables and liver, have an important role to play in helping people achieve a good folic acid status. The study recruited 72 healthy adults and asked them to consume one of four different diets for a month. The diets varied in their food folate content. Some subjects were also supplemented with folic acid capsules. Fluctuations in blood folic acid status were examined throughout the trial.

The results showed that the bioavailability of food folate, relative to the folic acid capsules, was 78%. This was much better than expected. The authors suggested that natural sources of folate are an efficient means of improving folic acid status in consumers.

For more information, see Winkels RM et al (2007). Bioavailability of food folates is 80% of that of folic acid. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol 85: pp 465-473.

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European Food Information Council (EUFIC) è un'organizzazione senza fini di lucro che fornisce informazioni scientificamente corrette sulla sicurezza e la qualità alimentare, la salute e la nutrizione, ai media, ai professionisti della salute e dell'alimentazione, agli educatori e agli opinion leader, in modo comprensibile per i consumatori.

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