In the judgment of the DRI Committee and its panel and subcommittees, highest priority should be given to research that has potential to prevent or retard human disease processes and to prevent deficiencies with functional consequences, as follows:
Studies to provide the basic data for constructing risk curves and benefit curves across the exposures to food folate and folic acid. Such studies would provide estimates of the risk of developing neural tube defects, vascular disease, and neurological complications in susceptible individuals consuming different amounts of folate.
Investigations of the size of the effect of folate, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and related nutrients for preventing vascular disease and of possible mechanisms for the influence of genetic variation.
Studies to overcome the methodological problems in the analysis of folate, including the development of sensitive and specific deficiency indicators and of practical, improved methods for analyzing the folate content of foods and determining its bioavailability.
Studies to develop economical, sensitive, and specific methods to assess the prevalence, causes, and consequences of vitamin B12 malabsorption and deficiency and to prevent and treat these conditions.
Investigation of how folate and related nutrients influence normal cellular differentiation and development, including embryogenesis and neoplastic transformation.
The requirements that appear to be the most productive to study are vitamin B12 requirements of the elderly and how they may be met; folate requirements, by trimester of pregnancy; and indicators on which to base vitamin B6 requirements.