Vitamins are essential to health and if intake is deficient, the results can lead to disease and illness. However, excessive supplementation may also be harmful. Dr. Bénédicte Fontaine-Bisson’s research team, composed of Amanda MacFarlane, Yvonne Lamers and Deborah O’Connor, highlighted the discrepancy between recommended dosage by expert guidelines and actual intake of folic acid (synthetic form of folate or vitamin B9), this is primarily due to commercial supplements containing over twice the recommended dose. This has led to an unprecedented increase in blood folate levels among Canadian pregnant women and those of reproductive age. Adequate folate intake reduces the occurrence of neural tube defects during fetal development, but long-term health consequences of elevated folate intake are unknown.
By organizing a workshop, Bénédicte and her research team convened key stakeholders to identify barriers and solutions to overcome this misalignment and address this important public health issue. As a result of their participation to the workshop, Health Canada has updated the optional statement to be included on supplement packaging and spurred a major industry to reduce folic acid content in their prenatal supplements. For these significant contributions and other KM activities led by the workshop participants within their own networks, the University of Ottawa recognized Bénédicte with a Knowledge Mobilization Award – Outstanding National or International Knowledge Mobilization.
Dr. Bénédicte Fontaine-Bisson is an Associate Professor in the School of Nutrition Sciences and Registered Dietitian. Her research program focuses on improving nutritional interventions during the perinatal period including those offered to vulnerable populations.
To learn more: https://research.uottawa.ca/news/research-reach