The Food and Drug Administration mandated that by 1998, all enriched cereal grain products (ECGP) be fortified with folic acid in order to prevent the occurrence of neural tube defects. The Institute of Medicine established the tolerable upper intake level (UL) for folic acid (1000 µg/day for adults) in 1998. We characterized U.S. adults with usual daily folic acid intake exceeding the UL. Using NHANES 2003-2010 data, we estimated the percentage of 18,321 non-pregnant adults with usual daily folic acid intake exceeding the UL, and among them, we calculated the weighted percentage by sex, age, race/ethnicity, sources of folic acid intake, supplement use and median usual daily folic acid intakes. Overall, 2.7% (standard error 0.6%) of participants had usual daily intake exceeding the UL for folic acid; 62.2% were women; 86.3% were non-Hispanic whites; and 98.5% took supplements containing folic acid. When stratified by sex and age groups among those with usual daily folic acid intake exceeding the UL, 20.8% were women aged 19-39 years. Those with usual daily intake exceeding the folic acid UL were more likely to be female, non-Hispanic white, supplement users or to have at least one chronic medical condition compared to those not exceeding the folic acid UL. Among those with usual daily folic acid intake exceeding the UL who also took supplements, 86.6% took on average >400 µg of folic acid/day from supplements. Everyone with usual daily folic acid intake exceeding the UL consumed folic acid from multiple sources. No one in our study population had usual daily folic acid intake exceeding the UL through consumption of mandatorily-fortified enriched cereal grain products alone. Voluntary consumption of supplements containing folic acid is the main factor associated with usual daily intake exceeding the folic acid UL.
NHANES; dietary supplements; folic acid
Orozco, A., Yeung, L., Guo, J., Carriquiry, A., & Berry, R. (2016). Characteristics of US adults with usual daily folic acid intake above the tolerable upper intake level: National health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2003–2010. Nutrients, 8(4), 195.