Folic acid food fortification-its history, effect, concerns, and future directions

Nutrients. 2011 Mar;3(3):370-84. doi: 10.3390/nu3030370. Epub 2011 Mar 15.


Periconceptional intake of folic acid is known to reduce a woman's risk of having an infant affected by a neural tube birth defect (NTD). National programs to mandate fortification of food with folic acid have reduced the prevalence of NTDs worldwide. Uncertainty surrounding possible unintended consequences has led to concerns about higher folic acid intake and food fortification programs. This uncertainty emphasizes the need to continually monitor fortification programs for accurate measures of their effect and the ability to address concerns as they arise. This review highlights the history, effect, concerns, and future directions of folic acid food fortification programs.

Keywords: cancer; epigenetics; flour fortification; folic acid; neural tube defects.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diet*
  • Female
  • Folic Acid / adverse effects
  • Folic Acid / history
  • Folic Acid / therapeutic use*
  • Food, Fortified* / adverse effects
  • Food, Fortified* / history
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Neural Tube Defects / history
  • Neural Tube Defects / prevention & control*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome*
  • Prenatal Care* / history
  • Prenatal Care* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Vitamin B Complex / adverse effects
  • Vitamin B Complex / history
  • Vitamin B Complex / therapeutic use*


  • Vitamin B Complex
  • Folic Acid