American pharmacy students are unaware of the recommended amounts of folic acid, according to a three-year study carried out by researchers at Midwestern University.
The researchers found that most students knew that folic acid helped prevent birth defects, but that a large number of them did not know the recommended dosages or the best sources for the nutrient. The survey results are published in the March issue of the Journal of Nutrition
Of 98 students enrolled on a pharmacy course, almost all (94 per cent) were aware that folic acid prevents birth defects. Of these students, most (74 per cent) also knew that supplementation should begin before pregnancy.
However, only 55 per cent of students were able to identify the recommended daily allowance for the vitamin, which is set by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) at 400 mcg/d for adults, 600 mcg/d for pregnant women and 500 mcg/d for lactating mothers. In addition, only 58 per cent to 65 per cent of students could name a good food source of folic acid, such as liver, lentils or peanuts.