Safe use of high intakes of folic acid: research challenges and paths forward

Nutr Rev. 2016 Jul;74(7):469-74. doi: 10.1093/nutrit/nuw015.


Adequate folic acid intake is an effective dietary-based prevention tool for reducing the risk of neural tube defects. Achieving adequate intake for the prevention of neural tube defects frequently requires the consumption of foods fortified with folic acid and/or the use of folic acid-containing dietary supplements. To date, research on the potential for adverse effects of high intakes of folic acid has been limited. Without such research, it is difficult to define a value for high intake. In May 2015, an expert panel was tasked with examining the available scientific literature and making research recommendations within 4 general categories of potential folate-related adverse health effects: cancer, cognition in conjunction with vitamin B12 deficiency, hypersensitivity-related outcomes, and thyroid and diabetes-related disorders. This article summarizes the expert panel's conclusions, outlines the challenges faced when reviewing the literature, and examines some of the panel's recommendations for research.

Keywords: folic acid; high vitamin intake; research recommendations; safety..

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cognition / drug effects
  • Diabetes Complications
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Female
  • Folic Acid / administration & dosage*
  • Folic Acid / adverse effects*
  • Food, Fortified
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms
  • Neural Tube Defects / prevention & control
  • Research
  • Thyroid Diseases
  • Vitamin B 12 Deficiency


  • Folic Acid