Human Folate Requirements

The folate requirement is the minimum amount necessary to prevent deficiency. Dietary recommendations for populations, however, must allow a margin of safety to cover the needs of the vast majority of the population. As is the case with most nutrients, the margin of safety for folate requirement corresponds to two standard deviations above the mean requirement for a population and should therefore meet the needs of 97.5% of the population. Thus, international dietary recommendations contain allowances for individual variability, the bioavail-ability of folate from different foodstuffs, and periods of low intake and increased use. Current international folate recommendations for FAO/ WHO, USA/Canada, and the European Union are listed in Table 2.

Table 2 Recommended dietary folate allowances for various population groups (mgday 1)



FAO/WHO (1998)

USA/Canada RDA (1998)

EU (1993)


Up to 6 months

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