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Eur J Clin Nutr. 2004 Mar;58(3):548-54.

Effects of once-a-week or daily folic acid supplementation on red blood cell folate concentrations in women.

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  • 1Department of Human Nutrition, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

Our aim was to determine if a once-a-week folic acid supplement increases women's red blood cell folate to concentrations (>905 nmol/l) that are associated with a low risk of bearing a child with a neural tube defect.

DESIGN:

Randomized control trial.

SETTING:

General community.

SUBJECTS:

In total, 114 nonpregnant women (18-40 y) volunteers, with red blood cell folate concentrations between 295 and 905 nmol/l at screening.

INTERVENTION:

Women were randomized to receive a once-a-week 2800 microg folic acid supplement, a daily 400 microg folic acid supplement or a daily placebo for 12 weeks.

RESULTS:

The mean (95% CI) red blood cell folate concentrations increased during the 12-week intervention from 608 (553-668) to 900 (828-978) in the weekly folic acid group (P<0.05) and from 615 (560-677) to 1053 (957-1158) nmol/l in the daily group (P<0.05) during the trial. At week 12, 49% of women ingesting the weekly folic acid supplement had red blood cell folate concentrations greater than 905 nmol/l compared to 74% of women ingesting the daily supplement.

CONCLUSION:

A once-a-week 2800 microg folic acid supplement can increase women's red blood cell folate to concentrations associated with a reduced risk of bearing a child with a neural tube defect, but is less effective than a 400 microg daily supplement. Use of a weekly folic acid supplement over at least 12 weeks before conception by women of child-bearing age may prevent neural tube defects.

FUNDING:

The Otago Medical Research Foundation (Laurenson Award). Healtheries (New Zealand) provided the supplements.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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