Recent Developments in Folate Nutrition

Adv Food Nutr Res. 2018:83:195-213. doi: 10.1016/bs.afnr.2017.12.006. Epub 2018 Feb 2.


The term folate (vitamin B9) refers to a group of water-soluble compounds that are nutritionally essential for the support of optimal human health and development. Folates participate in numerous one-carbon transfer reactions, including the methylation of important biomolecules (lipids, amino acids, DNA). A deficiency of folate leads to pathological outcomes including anemia and impairments in reproductive health and fetal development. Due to the linkage of impaired folate status with an increased prevalence of neural tube defects (NTDs) in babies, several jurisdictions required the fortification of the food supply with folic acid, a synthetic and stable form of folate. Data from the postfortification era have provided strong evidence for the reduction of NTDs due to folic acid fortification. However, concern is now growing with respect to the amount of synthetic folic acid within the human food supply. Excess folic acid intake has been linked to a masking of vitamin B12 deficiency, and concerns regarding the promotion of folate-sensitive cancers, including colorectal cancer. New strategies to ensure the supply of optimal folate to at-risk populations may be needed, including the use of biofortification approaches, in order to address recent concerns.

Keywords: Biofortification approach; Folacin; Folate; Folic acid; Synthetic folic acid; Vitamin B9.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dietary Supplements
  • Folic Acid / administration & dosage*
  • Folic Acid / pharmacology*
  • Folic Acid Deficiency*
  • Food, Fortified
  • Humans
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Vitamins / administration & dosage
  • Vitamins / pharmacology


  • Vitamins
  • Folic Acid