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Folate intake in a Portuguese female student population and its relation to body mass index, physical activity level and intake of other nutrients



Poor compliance to current recommendations of folic acid intake has been observed. Insufficient intakes of folate have been linked to neural tube defects in birth, anemia, neuropsychiatric disorders, some cancers and cardiovascular diseases.


The present study aimed to examine folate intake and its relationship with body mass index, physical activity level and intake of other nutrients among female Portuguese university students.


67 female students with ages between 19 and 25 years old participated in the study. Dietary intake was assessed by prospective three days food records; physical activity level was evaluated based on reported time spent in several activities.


Mean body mass index (BMI) was 22.1 ± 0.4 kg/m2 (normal weight); mean physical activity level was 1.57 ± 0.02 (low active physical activity level). Mean folate intake was 193.3 ± 9.4 ¼g/day, below the recommended dietary allowance of 400 ¼g/day. A high prevalence of inadequate folate intake was found (49.2%).


Folate intake was not associated with physical activity categories or BMI values. A positive correlation was found between folate intake, vitamin C and vitamin A intakes. No correlation was found between folate intake and macronutrient intake.