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Folate bioavailability: UK Food Standards Agency workshop report

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 March 2007

Peter Sanderson*
Nutrition Division, Food Standards Agency, Aviation House, 125 Kingsway, London WC2 6NH, UK
Helene McNulty
School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Ulster, Coleraine, UK
Pierpaolo Mastroiacovo
Department of Paediatrics and Childhood Neuroscience, Catholic University and International Centre on Birth Defects, Rome, Italy
Ian F. W. McDowell
Department of Medical Biochemistry, University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, UK
Alida Melse-Boonstra
Division of Human Nutrition and Epidemiology, Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands
Paul M. Finglas
Institute of Food Research, Norwich, UK
Jess F. Gregory III
Food Science and Human Nutrition Department, University of Florida, Gainesville FL, USA
*Corresponding author: Dr Peter Sanderson, fax +44 20 7276 8906, email
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The UK Food Standards Agency convened a group of expert scientists to review current research investigating folate bioavailability. The workshop aimed to overview current research and establish priorities for future research. Discrepancies were observed in the evidence base for folate bioavailability, especially with regard to the relative bioavailability of natural folates compared with folic acid. A substantial body of evidence shows folic acid to have superior bioavailability relative to food folates; however, the exact relative bioavailability still needs to be determined, and in particular with regard to mixed diets. The bioavailability of folate in a mixed diet is probably not a weighted average of that in the various foods consumed; thus the workshop considered that assessment of folate bioavailability of whole diets should be a high priority for future research.

Research Article
Copyright © The Nutrition Society 2003


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