Multivitamin use among non-pregnant females of childbearing age in the Western North Carolina multivitamin distribution program.N C Med J. 2009 Sep-Oct; 70(5):386-90.NC
Daily consumption of 400 mcg of folic acid prior to conception and throughout the first trimester of pregnancy reduces the risk of neural tube defects (NTDs) by 50%-80%. A daily multivitamin with folic acid can ensure that females receive the recommended amount of folic acid during childbearing years.
The purpose of this study was to determine if vitamin consumption is influenced by providing a free bottle of multivitamins to non-pregnant women of childbearing age during a face-to-face interaction with a health care provider in health departments.
An eight-question survey was given to a sample of women who had received a free bottle of multivitamins. Vitamin consumption behavior prior to the intervention was compared to current usage at the time of the survey.
Twenty-five percent of all survey respondents reported taking a daily multivitamin or folic acid tablet before the intervention. Fifty-three percent reported taking a daily multivitamin 8-10 months later, a greater than two-fold increase (PR=2.1). Latino women reported the greatest increase in daily multivitamin intake, from 21% to 70% (PR=3.3).
The results may be difficult to extrapolate to the general population as the survey population differs from the general population. Prior vitamin use was determined by patient recall. The intervention occurred simultaneously with a multifaceted, public folic acid campaign.
Eight to ten months after receiving a free three-month supply of multivitamins during a face-to-face interaction with a health care provider, the number of participants reporting daily use increased significantly.