Scientific Opinion on Dietary Reference Values for folate

folate, folic acid, Average Requirement, Dietary Reference Value, health outcomes
First published in the EFSA Journal
20 November 2014
30 October 2014
Last Updated
6 February 2015. This version replaces the previous one/s.
Scientific Opinion


Following a request from the European Commission, the Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) derived Dietary Reference Values (DRVs) for folate. The Panel concludes that an Average Requirement (AR), as well as a Population Reference Intake (PRI) assuming a coefficient of variation (CV) of 15 % to account for the additional variability associated with the higher requirement for folate in individuals with the methylene-tetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) 677TT genotype, can be derived from biomarkers of folate status. Several health outcomes possibly associated with folate intake/status were also considered, but data were found to be insufficient to establish DRVs. For adults, the AR is determined from the folate intake required to maintain folate adequacy characterised by serum and red blood cell folate concentrations of ≥ 10 and 340 nmol/L, respectively. An AR of 250 µg dietary folate equivalents (DFE)/day and a PRI of 330 µg DFE/day are derived. For infants aged 7–11 months, an Adequate Intake (AI) of 80 µg DFE/day is derived by extrapolating upwards from the estimated folate intake in exclusively breast-fed infants. For children, ARs are extrapolated from the AR for adults using allometric scaling and growth factors and considering differences in reference weights. PRIs ranging from 120 µg DFE/day for 1–3 year-old children to 330 µg DFE/day for boys and girls aged 15–17 years are derived. For pregnant women, an AI of 600 µg DFE/day is derived based on a study on maintenance of serum and red blood cell folate concentrations in pregnancy. For lactating women, an additional intake of 130 µg DFE/day is considered to cover folate losses via breast milk; this figure is added to the AR for non-lactating women and a PRI of 500 µg DFE/day is derived.

Panel members at the time of adoption

Carlo Agostoni, Roberto Berni Canani, Susan Fairweather-Tait, Marina Heinonen, Hannu Korhonen, Sébastien La Vieille, Rosangela Marchelli, Ambroise Martin, Androniki Naska, Monika Neuhäuser-Berthold, Grażyna Nowicka, Yolanda Sanz, Alfonso Siani, Anders Sjödin, Martin Stern, Sean (J.J.) Strain, Inge Tetens, Daniel Tomé, Dominique Turck and Hans Verhagen.
Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies
nda [at]
EFSA Journal 2014;12(11):3893
Question Number
On request from
European Commission