Iron, vitamin B12 and folate intakes of female university students
(2016) Iron, vitamin B12 and folate intakes of female university students, no. 42.
Background: Prolonged iron, folate and vitamin B12 intakes below Recommended Nutrient Intake (RNI) values can lead to adverse health consequences. Inadequate intakes are a concern in women of childbearing age. Aim: To assess iron, folate and vitamin B12 intakes of at least 12 female university students and compare these to Dietary Reference Values (DRV) and results of the National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS). Methods: This was a cross-sectional study carried out on female students at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh. Participants completed unweighed 4-day diet diaries. The nutrient compositions of the diet diaries were analysed to obtain average intakes of iron, folate and vitamin B12 through the diet only and diet + supplements (D+S). Intakes were compared to DRVs and results of the most recent NDNS. Results: 17 participants were recruited, of whom 14 returned diet diaries for analysis. Nil participants achieved the Reference Nutrient Intake (RNI) for iron through the diet. Dietary iron intakes were 9.8 ± 1.8 mg/day (D+S: 13.5 ± 7.3 mg/day). Neither dietary nor D+S intakes differed significantly from their respective NDNS results (P=0.44; P=0.27, respectively). Dietary iron intakes were significantly below the RNI (P<0.001). Dietary folate intakes were 210 ± 83 μg/day (D+S: 326 ± 160 μg/day), neither differed significantly from NDNS results (P=0.44; P=0.23, respectively). D+S folate intakes were significantly above the RNI (P=0.012). Through the diet, 8/14 participants met the RNI for folate; 1/14 met the Lower Reference Nutrient Intake (LRNI) only; and 1 failed to meet the LRNI. Dietary vitamin B12 intakes were 3.25 ± 1.4 μg/day (D+S: 4 ± 2.1 μg/day). Dietary intakes were significantly below NDNS results (4.6 ± 3.2 μg/day; P=0.003). Dietary and D+S vitamin B12 intakes were significantly above the RNI (P=0.001 and P<0.001, respectively). Through the diet, 12/14 participants met the RNI for vitamin B12; 1 achieved just the LRNI. Conclusions: Female university students are at risk of iron deficiency related diseases and undesirable health outcomes. A small proportion of the population exists, who are also at risk of vitamin B12 and / or folate deficiency-related diseases, due to low intakes. Keywords: iron; folate; vitamin B12; intakes; female; student.