Irish women three times as likely to check their smartphone in the morning as take a folic acid tablet

  • safefood campaign reminds women of importance of taking folic acid every morning

Tuesday 26 September 2017. Young Irish women are three times as likely to check their smartphone in the morning as they are to take a folic acid tablet according to new research¹ from safefood as part of its campaign reminding women to include folic acid as part of their morning routine. More than 80% of women who responded to the survey check their phone / social media as part of their morning routine yet only 25% of women² take a folic acid tablet.

Following personal hygiene habits or eating breakfast, the most typical morning habits for women include applying make up (56%) and picking an outfit for the day (56%) followed by preparing lunches (47%), styling hair (46%) and commuting or school runs (27%).

Dr Marian O’Reilly, Chief Specialist in Nutrition with safefood said,

It’s great to see that over 70% of Irish women report starting their day with a healthy breakfast and 95% brush their teeth every morning. What we want women to do is to take on a new healthy habit – take a daily 400microgram folic acid supplement - it’s even easier than brushing your teeth and takes only seconds to do. Folic acid prevents most neural tube defects like spina bifida in the first few weeks of pregnancy at a time when most women are unaware they’re pregnant. With 50% of all pregnancies³ unplanned, taking folic every morning gets you into a healthy habit, even if a baby is the last thing on your mind.”

The research also found that nearly one quarter of women spend €420 a year on beauty and skincare products, with 4 out of 10 spending up to €240. With some folic acid tablets costing less than 1c per day or just €1.80 for a year’s supply⁴, this is one essential supplement that won’t eat into women’s health & beauty budgets.

Dr Aileen McGloin, Communications Manager, Digital and Health at safefood said,

Almost half (45%) the women in our survey said the best way to create a new healthy habit is to be prepared. With folic acid, keep it near your toothbrush, beside your bed or somewhere that will remind you to take it as part of your morning routine. Setting a reminder on your phone (15%) or committing to a new habit (16%) were also mentioned by women as successful ways to create a new habit.”

The safefood campaign is reminding women to take a 400 microgram folic acid supplement every day because women cannot receive the amount of folic acid they need through food alone, even with fortified foods as part of their diet. Taking a daily folic acid supplement⁵ can potentially prevent two thirds of Neural Tube Defects (NTDs) like spina bifida from occurring. At present, Ireland has the highest rate* of babies born with spina bifida in the EU

You can find more information about the safefood campaign in your local pharmacy or by using the hashtag #folicfacts or visiting

setting an alarm on the phone

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For further information or to request an interview, please contact

Emma Walsh


Tel: +353 1 669 0030

Mob: +353 87 317 0897 / +353 85 736 0119

Email: or


Dermot Moriarty / Julie Carroll safefood

Tel: 00353 1 448 0600

Mob: 00353 86 381 1034 (Dermot) / 00353 086 601 6005 (Julie)


  1. Online survey conducted by safefood based on 500 women aged 18+ living on the island of Ireland (safefood, August 2017.
  2. Folic Acid baseline survey of 673 women aged 18-49 living on the island of Ireland (safefood, September 2017)
  3. Your Health is Your Wealth – HSE Public Health Policy Framework 2012-2020
  4. Based on a safefood survey of folic acid prices (2016)
  6. *EUROCAT (2007) Survey of folic acid policy and practice in European Countries Northern Ireland. (accessed September 2015).

Editor’s notes

The safefood Folic Acid campaign comprises:

  • Video on demand (VOD) digital ads on YouTube pre-rolls and video content on a variety of female-targeted websites
  • Digital content partnerships with women’s online portals; online content on radio station websites and other digital news platforms
  • Social Media content and advertising on Facebook and Instagram
  • Information posters and leaflets available in pharmacies and distributed via community health groups
  • Media relations including local bloggers discussing the issue of folic acid
  • Information on the safefood website ( and YouTube page (