A recent study, looking at the impact of folic acid on amino acid reduction and heart disease, showed that although folic acid does reduce amino acid this doesn’t in turn significantly reduce heart disease. More importantly though the study also revealed that the participants suffered no adverse effects whatsoever during the trial confirming the safety of folic acid as a food supplement.
Writing in the Archives of Internal Medicine the Oxford based researchers wrote “Although the lack of any other benefits is disappointing, the lack of any significant adverse effects on vascular events, cancer incidence, cancer mortality and overall mortality provides reassurance about the safety of population-wide folic acid fortification,”
Folic acid is recommended for women planning pregnancy as an overwhelming body of evidence links folate deficiency in early pregnancy to increased risk of neural tube defects (NTDs) - most commonly spina bifida and anencephaly - in infants. Most NTDs occur within the first 22 to 28 days of pregnancy when the mother may or may not be aware she is pregnant which is why folic acid is recommended at the planning a pregnancy stage.
The Health Supplements Information Service (HSIS) reinforced this view by saying
“It is vital to point out that folic acid which is a B vitamin is essential for normal blood formation, homocysteine metabolism, function of the immune system, cell division, plus for maternal tissue growth during pregnancy. Intakes of this very important nutrient are lower than recommended in significant proportions of the UK population and a supplement containing this vitamin can help bridge this dietary gap. Moreover, folic acid supplements are recommended by the Food Standards Agency for women planning a pregnancy and for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. ‘’
“As many people are missing folic acid from their diets and the government recommends women planning a pregnancy and mums-to-be should ensure adequate folic acid levels daily.”
Last updated: 12-10-2010