ALERT: Beware FDA’s new folate labeling rules

Back in June, warned you about the new FDA nutrition and supplement labeling rules—and how they could wreak havoc on your health. And there’s one change in particular that you should be particularly wary of.  It involves one of the all-important B-vitamins I mentioned on page X—folate (vitamin B9).

This essential nutrient is key for preventing heart disease, anemia, brain diseases, and birth defects. It comes in two forms—dietary folate that you get from foods like beans, leafy greens, citrus fruits, and broccoli—and folic acid, which is often used in dietary supplements.

The proposed new FDA supplement labeling rules will change the unit of measurement for folate from simple metric micrograms to “micrograms dietary folate equivalent” (or mcg DFE). One mcg DFE is equivalent to only 0.6 mcg of folic acid.

The problem is, this conversion is based upon the flawed governmental assumption that folic acid is much more potent than folate.

However, the way your body utilizes folate comes down to individual biology, metabolism, and genetics. So, once again, the government’s “one size fits all” strategy for determining standard dosages of drugs simply misses the boat when it comes to nutritional individuality.

So how did the FDA come up with this new way of measuring folate? Believe it or not, its approach appears to be based largely on just a single study of non-pregnant women. Hardly representative of the entire population.

The FDA is also proposing that supplements contain only folic acid, and not folate. This allows government bureaucrats to restrict folate in its natural form solely to drug company use.

What an example of bureaucratic double-talk. On the one hand the FDA is saying that only folic acid may appear on supplement labels. On the other hand, it’s addressing how to label folate—but incorrectly!

For now, fortunately, you can continue to protect yourself with either form of this essential nutrient. Folic acid is of course still available and beneficial as plenty of research shows. You can also still get specialized forms of folate that are more potent and bioavailable, such as Quatrefolic ®  or Metafolin. ®  (Of course those forms will also be more expensive.) I generally recommend 200 micrograms a day.