According to a new data analysis from Germany, significantly more people consume too little folate than was previously supposed.
A re-evaluation of the data from the large National Nutrition Survey II (Nationale Verzehrsstudie [NVS] II), which assessed almost 14,000 participants, examined average folate intake in the population (1). The ana- lysis showed that the median intake (i.e., half of all values measured was above this, and the other half below it) was only 184 µg of folic acid or folate for women and only 207 µg for men. Around half of all Ger- mans consume less than 200 µg of folate.
The researchers noted that although the German Nutrition Society (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ernährung, DGE) had lowered the recommended daily intake from 400 µg to 300 µg in 2013, the gap between the recommended amounts and actual intakes remained very large. Daily consumption of five portions of fruit (in particular citrus fruits) or vegetables (green vegetables like spinach, all types of cabbage and tomatoes) and several portions of wholemeal products a day would be ideal for folate provision. But even when people are aware of this, they often fail to implement it in practice, said the researchers. For this reason, more staple food like flour and baked goods should be fortified with folic acid, while already available solutions like fortified table salt should be utilized to improve folate status. The DGE recommends a daily intake of 300 µg folate for adults to ensure a good supply (2). All women planning to have children are advised to take a supplement containing at least 400 µg of folic acid daily before they become pregnant and to maintain this intake at least until the end of the first trimester, in order to protect the embryo against severe congenital malformations. According to the National Nutrition Survey, overall fewer than 20 percent of German women of childbearing age take an additional dietary supplement with folic acid or multivitamin preparations.