The Folate story: A vitamin under the microscope

The Folate story: A vitamin under the microscope


By Victor Hoffbrand

Uniquely among the thirteen vitamins, folate (folic acid) was discovered by a woman. This book tells the story of the vitamin from 1931 when Lucy Wills first reported that there was a factor in the yeast extract Marmite which cured anaemia of pregnant women in Bombay. It is a story of major medical achievements, including the introduction into clinical practice of the first effective anti-bacterial and anti-cancer drugs.

Folate’s path is also littered with scandals of international importance, the most significant the failure of worldwide fortification of the diet with folic acid. This catastrophe allows thousands of babies to be born each year with serious birth defects which so easily could have been prevented by this simple, safe public health measure.

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The Folate story: A vitamin under the microscope