To combat the rise of neural tube defects, folic acid was added to grains in the US in the late 1990’s. Since then, over 50 other countries have adopted this policy to some degree. Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate (naturally occurring B9), which our bodies need for things like cell growth and the formation of DNA. This food fortification measure proved to be successful at reducing the incidence of neural tube birth defect‘s worldwide. Folic acid is also added to most prenatal and multi-vitamins as a source of B9.
I have been pondering this topic lately, because I recently found out I have a genetic mutation (MTHFR), which doesn’t allow the body to use and process synthetic folic acid properly. It then leads to a build up of homocysteine in the body, which can be toxic. My first big question is this: what else is this synthetic supplementation doing in our bodies? When our growing kids sit down and eat several bowls of fortified cereal for breakfast, have a sandwich for lunch with fortified bread, a fortified granola bar in the afternoon, and a bowl of fortified pasta for dinner, what happens then? How much is too much? I can find very little information on this.
I read that 40% or more of the population has some form of the genetic mutation MTHFR. That means a large portion of the population may not tolerate this synthetic vitamin. Here is my second big question: if that is the case, then why aren’t we hearing more about this? If fortified foods and supplements can be harmful to up to 40% of the population, then why aren't more studies being done on its effects? Is this why so many people are becoming gluten intolerant? Is it the grain or what we are adding to the grain? Are many of us harming our bodies unknowingly by eating foods with this fortification? Does this have anything to do with the sharp rise in autoimmune diseases? Is the fortification that is supposed to be helping us, actually doing us harm? I would like to know.