Nutr Res Pract.  2018 Feb;12(1):78-84. 10.4162/nrp.2018.12.1.78.

Awareness, knowledge, and use of folic acid among non-pregnant Korean women of childbearing age

  • 1Department of Food and Nutrition, Chungbuk National University, 1, Chungdae-ro, Seowon-gu, Cheongju-si, Chungbuk 28644, Korea.
  • 2Department of Food and Nutrition, The Catholic University, Gyeonggi 14662, Korea.
  • 3Department of Preventive Medicine and Medical Research Institute, Chungbuk National University, Chungbuk 28644, Korea.


Folic acid supplementation before pregnancy is known to reduce the risk of neural tube defects. The purposes of this study were to investigate the awareness, knowledge, and use of folic acid supplements along with their associated factors among non-pregnant Korean women of childbearing age.
From August 2012 to March 2013, 704 women aged 19-45 years completed a self-administered questionnaire regarding their awareness, knowledge, and use of folic acid as well as questions to identify risk of inadequate folate intake.
Approximately 67% of women reported that they had heard of folic acid, and 23.7% had knowledge of both the role of folic acid in preventing birth defects and appropriate time for taking folic acid supplements to prevent birth defects. However, only 9.4% of women took folic acid supplements at the time of the survey. Women aged 19-24 years, unmarried women, and women who had never been pregnant were less likely to be aware and knowledgeable of folic acid or take folic acid supplements. In addition, women at high risk of inadequate folate intake were less likely to take folic acid supplements. In a multivariate analysis, women aged 19-24 years, women with a high school diploma or lower education level, and unmarried women were less likely to be aware and have knowledge of folic acid. The percentage of women taking folic acid supplements was significantly higher among knowledgeable women than among unknowledgeable women.
These results support our hypothesis that women with knowledge of folic acid are more likely to take folic acid supplements. Therefore, educational programs or campaigns to improve knowledge regarding the importance of folic acid and to promote consumption of folic acid supplements as well as folate-rich foods are needed to target young, less educated, and unmarried women.


Folic acid; dietary supplements; awareness; knowledge; women

MeSH Terms

Congenital Abnormalities
Dietary Supplements
Folic Acid*
Multivariate Analysis
Neural Tube Defects
Single Person
Folic Acid


  • Fig. 1 Percentage of women taking folic acid supplements at the time of the survey. 1)Women who knew both the role of folic acid in preventing birth defects and appropriate time to take folic acid. ***P < 0.001 by chi-square test

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You Jing Jin, Hae Won Kim
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