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Folic Acid To Be Added to UK Flour in Effort to Reduce Birth Defects

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola

Medical groups and health charities in the U.K. are applauding a government decision to mandate folic acid fortification in all flour sold in the U.K. They believe the effort is a positive step toward reducing the number of babies born with serious birth defects like spina bifida and anencephaly, as supplementation has been an inadequate means of doing this. Mandatory fortification already occurs in 80 other countries, including the U.S., The Guardian reports.

I suppose this is all well and good — if you believe the best way to get folic acid in your system, pregnant or not, is through eating foods made from flour. Aside from being a rather uncontrollable method of measuring how much folic acid you’re getting (who knows how much bread or pasta or cereals each person will eat?) flour is NOT good for your health. Actually, the ideal way to raise your folate levels is to eat plenty of raw, fresh, organic leafy green vegetables.

Your next question might be: I thought we were talking about folic acid here — why do you mention folate? The answer is, while most people assume folate and folic acid are interchangeable, it is important to realize there are significant differences between them. In other words, they are not the same.

Prenatal vitamins and many staple foods are fortified with folic acid to prevent birth defects associated with deficiency during fetal development — but that doesn’t mean they’re the only or best way to remedy a folate deficiency or prevent birth defects.

According to MIT research scientist Stephanie Seneff, Ph.D., whom I’ve interviewed several times, those pushing folic acid supplementation should know better. She says:

"The folic acid supplement that's added to flour is a synthetic version of the B vitamin, which is oxidized and missing the methyl group. The active form of the vitamin is technically called methyltetrahydrofolate … Folic acid is a (cheaper) synthetic molecule whereas folate is natural.”

Since U.S. fortification didn’t begin until 1998 after genetically modified (GM) Roundup-Ready corn and soy crops had been on the market, Seneff suspects that the tandem rise of spina bifida may have had something to do with the potential of glyphosate, Roundup’s main ingredient, to cause the birth defect.

“It would not take a rocket scientist to think that disruption of the gut microbes that naturally produce folate for the host would lead to folate deficiency, Seneff says. “In fact, it is a direct hit: folate is produced from products of the shikimate pathway, and this is the pathway that even Monsanto admits is disrupted in plants and microbes by glyphosate.”

You can follow this link to read my concerns about why folic acid supplements are a poor substitute for folate-rich foods, but as I mentioned, the best way to avoid a deficiency is to eat your veggies, especially broccoli, asparagus, spinach and turnip greens.

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