Folic acid - vitamin and panacea or genetic time bomb?

Nat Rev Genet. 2005 Mar;6(3):235-40. doi: 10.1038/nrg1558.


We live in a health-conscious age - many of us supplement our diet with essential micronutrients through the discretionary use of multivitamin pills or judicious selection of foods that have a health benefit beyond that conferred by the nutrient content alone - the so-called 'functional foods'. Indeed, the citizens of some nations have little choice, with a mandatory fortification policy in place for certain vitamins. But do we ever stop to consider the consequences of an increased exposure to micronutrients? We examine this issue in relation to the B-group vitamin folic acid, and ask whether supplementation with this vitamin could introduce a strong genetic selection pressure - one that has the side effect of increasing the prevalence of some of the most significant, human life-threatening diseases. Are we affecting our genetics - is this a case of human evolution in progress by altering our diet?

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Folic Acid / pharmacology*
  • Food, Fortified
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Selection, Genetic*


  • Folic Acid