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D. Fortification -- Better Than Nothing

Narrator: This is Science Today. Dr. Patrick Romano of the University of California, Davis did a study showing that if the nation's grain supply was fortified with the B vitamin folic acid, serious birth defects called neural tube defects could be prevented to the tune of a quarter of a billion dollars a year. Romano admits his fortification plan is a shortcut -- that it would be better to improve the American diet overall.

Romano: If we could really change the American diet and get people eating more fresh vegetables that have fiber, have folic acid as well as other vitamins in them, then we could prevent not just neural tube defects but also some cases of breast cancer, some cases of colon cancer, some cases of heart disease. So the potential health benefits would be enormous.

Narrator: The problem is that it's hard to do that.

Romano: People have been telling us for years that we need to eat more fruits and vegetables. And yet we've seen very little change in the American diet.

Narrator: Given that, says Romano, fortification is better than nothing. For Science Today, I'm Steve Tokar.