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same hematological changes that occur with folate deficiency because the vitamin B12 deficiency results in a secondary folate deficiency (Selhub and Rosenberg, 1996).

Interactions with Other Food Components


Experimental data do not support the hypothesis that dietary fiber per se reduces folate bioavailability (Bailey, 1988; Gregory, 1989). Human studies (Russell et al., 1976) confirmed the negative findings of both rat and chick bioassays regarding the identification of an inhibitory action of various dietary fiber sources. Certain forms of fiber (e.g., wheat bran) may decrease the bioavailability of certain forms of folate under some conditions (Bailey et al., 1988; Keagy et al., 1988), but many forms of fiber appear to have no adverse effects (Gregory, 1997).

Experimental evidence in rats indicates that synthesis of folate by intestinal bacteria influences folate status (Keagy and Oace, 1989; Krause et al., 1996). Rong and colleagues (1991) reported that bacterially synthesized folate in the rat large intestine is incorporated into host tissue polyglutamates. The applicability of these data to humans is unknown. Suggestive evidence of a positive association between dietary fiber intake and folate status in humans was reported by Houghton and coworkers (1997). Zimmerman (1990) provided evidence that the monoglutamate form can be transported into the mucosa of the human colon by facilitated diffusion, allowing for the possibility of subsequent absorption of folate synthesized in the large intestine.


Data from surveys of chronic alcoholics suggest that inadequate intake is a major cause of the folate deficiency that has often been observed in chronic alcohol users (Eichner and Hillman, 1971; Herbert et al., 1963). Ethanol intake may aggravate folate deficiency by impairing intestinal folate absorption and hepatobiliary metabolism (Halsted et al., 1967, 1971, 1973) and by increasing renal folate excretion (McMartin et al., 1986; Russell et al., 1983).

Cigarette Smoking

Although blood folate concentrations have been reported to be

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