International Conference Debates Folic Acid Food Fortification
Sep 10, 2013
The negative impact of high blood levels of the amino acid Homocysteine from pre-natal life to older age, its regulation by the vitamins folic acid and vitamin B12 and its implications for public health policy on food fortification will be examined at the 9th International Conference on Homocysteine and One-Carbon Metabolism being held at Trinity College Dublin this week.
A key focus of the conference is a symposium on food fortification with folic acid. Pioneering work undertaken at Trinity College Dublin has had a significant impact on the understanding of the connection between folic acid intake and birth defects such as spina bifida. These studies contributed to the development of national and international public health policy on food fortification with folic acid across the developed world. The U.S., Canada and the E.U (including Ireland) have adopted different public health strategies in relation to either mandatory or voluntary fortification. The results of these policies and implications for human health - including a review of the levels of folic acid and vitamin B12 intake in Irish adults - are the focus of this symposium, which is sponsored by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland
The symposium is dedicated to the memory of Professor John Scott from Trinity College Dublin Professor Scott pioneered research in this country into folate biochemistry and its relevance to human health and disease, in particular in relation to neural tube defects, such as spina bifida.
Researchers have also begun to discover an association between high levels of homocysteine in the blood and conditions affecting cognitive brain function in older age. These associations developed from insights into the rare metabolic disorder of Homocystinuria, which causes extremely high blood levels of homocysteine. This disorder is associated with heart disease, bone anomalies and other serious medical conditions. We now know that moderately high levels of homocysteine can occur in a variety of circumstances including vascular disease, bone disease and other common conditions of older age. Evidence suggesting that adequate blood folate and B12 levels may reduce these effects will be further explored at the Conference.
“The scope of this meeting extends across the human life span - from pre-natal development to healthy ageing. Bringing this conference to Dublin in 2013 is a recognition of the work being done in Ireland and is a timely tribute to the seminal work carried out by the late John Scott and his team of clinicians and scientists,” said Dr. Anne Molloy, Associate Professor in Clinical Medicine at the School of Medicine, Trinity College Dublin.
The international conference, being organised by Dr. Molloy brings together leading clinicians, clinical laboratory and molecular biologists, cardiologists, geriatric specialists and geneticists aiming to bridge the gap between the clinical impacts of homocysteine, folic acid and B12 and our understanding of how these substances work in the human body.
For more information please visit: www.tcd.ie/Biochemistry/Hcy2013