The Official Publication of Volunteer Youth Leaders for Health - Philippines

Friday, August 31, 2012

Filipino studs conduct Folic Acid Awareness Talk

Written by Stanley Gajete
Batch I3, UP Los Banos
Originally published online UPI NEXT

Guest Speaker Ms. Marian Teresa Cuenca, RN of
IHG-NIH, UP Manila
LOS BANOS, LAGUNA - In celebration of the 29th year of existence, The University of the Philippines Los Banos Genetics Society (UPLB GeneSoc) steered a Folic Acid Awareness symposium for UPLB community. The event was held at Institute of Biological Sciences on August 13.

The symposium was part of the week-long celebration of with the theme “Folic Acid: A Vitamin for Life.” The talk aimed to encourage the UPLB community to take on folic acid awareness as an advocacy and to help impart the importance of Folic Acid to the students. This is according to UPLB GeneSoc President Rufus Thomas Adducul.

A pre-test was conducted before the start of symposium to determine if the participants have basic knowledge on Folic Acid. A series of sample images was also presented to test if some of those birth defects seemed familiar to the attendees.

The reality speaks for itself

Albeit the fact that only six out of 10 individuals are aware of the importance of folic acid, most Filipino women think that folic acid is for pregnant mothers only. This is according to Ms. Marian Theresa Cuenca, registered nurse and Birth Defects Surveillance Project coordinator from the Institute of Human Genetics - National Institutes of Health (IHG-NIH), UP Manila, who served as the keynote speaker. Ms. Cuenca is also the Volunteer Youth Leaders for Health - Philippines (VYLH-Philippines) NCR-South Luzon cluster secretariat.


A portion of the exhibit held at the lobby of the Institute of Biological Sciences.
Photo: The UPLB Genetics Society



Based on the data presented by Ms. Cuenca, folic acid, also known as Vitamin B9 is a water-soluble vitamin that can be found on different foods. It cannot be stored in the human body, thus regular intake of Folic Acid is necessary to replace it immediately.

Ms. Cuenca also claimed that the said vitamin helps in nourishing red-blood cells. She also cleared that folic acid is important for both men and women during their reproductive development years (ages 14 and above), to hamper chances of having birth defects in their offspring.

Folic Acid Sources

As emphasized by Ms. Cuenca, the different sources of folate, the natural form of folic acid, are chicken and beef liver, rice and cereals. A small amount of the said vitamin is established on some foods like breads, fruits, nuts and vegetables.

Ms. Cuenca also shared some options including some food supplements that are available
on different drugstores which are sold at an average of P9.00 per capsule. These supplements have enough amount of folic acid needed by every individual.

As an average, 400 micrograms (mcgs) of folic acid is needed by each one starting from age 14. On the other hand, for mothers who have already children with birth defects, an amount of 4000 mgs. are necessary to satisfy the appropriate amount required.

The core of the event

Based from Mr. Adducul, UPLB GeneSoc was part of the pioneering organizations in the Philippines who created Volunteer Youth Leaders for Health-Philippines (VYLH-Philippines). It is a national collaboration of youth leaders from different organizations in universities and communities in the Philippines that focuses on three health advocacies: Folic Acid Awareness, Newborn Screening Promotion, and Rare Disease Support.

Because of these three main advocacies being promoted, UPLB GeneSoc intensifies its aim of bringing awareness among youth, especially to UPLB students. As such, a symposium on Folic Acid Awareness was conducted to continuously uphold its commitment of educating youth through this campaign, Mr. Adducul highlighted.

A total of 65 resident members constitute the organization.

Important message


Mr. Adducul shared in the symposium the importance of youth in nation-building. For him, “The burning spirit of volunteerism and the radiating energy of the youth would be a very essential instrument in attaining a healthier Philippines. Since the youth constitutes the largest part of the population, its role in shaping major advancement in a society is vital.” From these words, the organization and the speaker hoped that the participants who attended the symposium will carry on its goal of educating the people by sharing thoughts and ideas gained from the symposium.

After the talk, a post-test was done and leaflets which will serve as guide about the knowhow of the campaign were given to the participants.

Around 50 students from different colleges of the university attended the event.
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