Public Release: 

Supplement use predicts folate status in Canadian women

Canadian Science Publishing (NRC Research Press)

Ottawa, Ontario (April 10, 2012) - Researchers have gained new insight into why 22% of Canadian women of childbearing age are still not achieving a folate concentration considered optimal for reducing the risk of having babies with neural tube defects, despite a virtual absence of folate deficiency in the general Canadian population.

When the authors examined a nation-wide study, they found a main reason why some women are not achieving levels optimal for reducing risk is many do not take the supplemental folic acid recommended for this population.

This article appears in the April issue of the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism.

"This segment of the population is the target of fortification and supplementation policies and clarifying the factors associated with achieving optimal folate status is essential to refining interventions," Cynthia Colapinto, lead author. "The importance of folic acid supplementation for women of childbearing age must be distinguished from the needs of the general population."

The study found folic acid supplement intake was the most significant predictor of optimal RBC (red blood cell) folate concentration for this subgroup. Supplement intake, in turn, was significantly related to income, with a greater percentage of folic acid supplement users in the highest income group. Furthermore, only 25% of Canadian women of childbearing age reported taking a folic acid supplement. According to the report, these data indicate a need for targeted strategies to improve compliance with folic acid supplement recommendations to assist women of childbearing age in achieving desired folate concentrations.


The authors of this study include Cynthia Colapinto and Dr. Mark Tremblay with the Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group, Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute. Dr. Tremblay is also with the Department of Pediatrics, University of Ottawa. Colapinto and Dr. Lise Dubois are with the Institute of Population Health, University of Ottawa. Dr. Deborah O'Connor is with the Physiology and Experimental Medicine Program, The Hospital for Sick Children and the Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Toronto.

Available open access on the Canadian Science Publishing (NRC Research Press) website.

Publisher Contact:
Judy Letourneau (Canadian Science Publishing)

CHEO Contact:
Adrienne Vienneau
Director, Communications and Public Relations
Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario, Research Institute
Direct: 613-737-7600 x4144

Full Reference: Colapinto, C., O'Connor, D. Dubois, L., and Tremblay, M. (2012) Folic acid supplement use is the most significant predictor of folate concentrations in Canadian women of childbearing age. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism. 37(2). DOI: 10.1139/H11-161.

About the Publisher

NRC Research Press, which began as the publishing arm of the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) in 1929, transitioned in September 2010 from NRC and the Federal Government of Canada into an independent not-for-profit organization operating under the new name Canadian Science Publishing. Canadian Science Publishing (which continues to operate its journals under the brand NRC Research Press) is the foremost scientific publisher in Canada, publishing 15 of its own journals and providing advanced electronic publishing services to its clients. With over 50 highly skilled experts and an editorial team comprising some of the world's leading researchers, NRC Research Press (Canadian Science Publishing) communicates scientific discoveries to over 175 countries.


Canadian Science Publishing operates under the brand NRC Research Press but is not affiliated with the National Research Council Canada. Papers published by Canadian Science Publishing are peer-reviewed by experts in their field. The views of the authors in no way reflect the opinions of Canadian Science Publishing or the National Research Council of Canada. Requests for commentary about the contents of any study should be directed to the authors.

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