Nutritional folate deficiency is treated with oral folic acid supplements. Folate stores in the body range between 10–30 mg, most of which is stored in your liver, while the remaining amount is stored in blood and tissues. Copyright 1996-2020 Cerner Multum, Inc. Folic acid helps reduce the risk of getting neural tube defects... 2. Additionally, folate supplements may be helpful for those with alcohol use disorders. Before you take folic acid, tell your doctor if you have kidney disease (or if you are on dialysis), an infection, if you are an alcoholic, or if you have any type of anemia that has not been diagnosed by a doctor and confirmed with laboratory testing. Folate is also important for maternal health, and supplementing with folic acid has been shown to reduce the risk of pregnancy-related complications, including preeclampsia. Take folic acid exactly as prescribed by your doctor. The researchers detected unmetabolized folic acid in a larger number of women who had children with ASD, compared with women who had children without ASD. Some people have genetic variations that affect how they metabolize folate. You should not use this medication if you have ever had an allergic reaction to folic acid. Tell your doctor about all your prescription and over-the-counter medications, vitamins, minerals, herbal products, and drugs prescribed by other doctors. Treatment of folate deficiency. Birth defects. Folic acid is widely known as the creator of amino acids. Your healthcare provider may recommend higher doses in certain circumstances, such as in the case of folate deficiency, but you should not take more than the UL without medical supervision. Although these studies suggest that there may be risks to taking high doses of folic acid during pregnancy, more research is needed to confirm these findings. Folic acid and folate are two forms of vitamin B9. Folate is essential to good health. Maternal folate status is a predictor of neural tube defect risk, which has led to national public health policies regarding folic acid supplementation for women who are or may become pregnant. Folate supplements have been shown to be particularly important for certain populations, including pregnant women, people with genetic polymorphisms affecting folate metabolism, older adults in nursing homes, and people with low socioeconomic status who are more at risk of folate deficiency (6). MTHFR is a gene everyone has. The incidence of genetic variants that influence folate metabolism varies depending on ethnicity and geographical location. Aside from the potential side effects listed above, there are several other risks associated with taking high doses of folic acid: It’s important to note that most people in the United States have adequate folate status and taking a supplement may not be appropriate. … Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction to folic acid: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat. Seek emergency medical attention if you think you have used too much of this medicine. Folic acid will be very essential to keep the health of your heart. Folic acid, a member of the B vitamin family, has demonstrated benefits in a variety of areas. The RDA for folate during pregnancy is 600 mcg DFE (7). Unlike with naturally occurring folate in food and biologically active supplemental forms of folate like 5-methyltetrahydrofolate, taking high doses of folic acid may lead to negative side effects. Folic acid is the man-made version of the vitamin folate (also known as vitamin B9). What’s more, folic acid supplements may help reduce high blood pressure, a known heart disease risk factor (20). Firstly it helps to prevent the formation of lines and wrinkles by making new skin cells. Pregnant women and breastfeeding women have increased folate needs and need to take in 600 mcg and 500 mcg DFE of folate per day, respectively (6). Do not take it in larger amounts or for longer than recommended. These days, multivitamins with folic acid … Do not start a new medication without telling your doctor. Given folate’s importance for maternal and fetal health and the difficulty many women have meeting their needs through diet alone, it’s recommended that all women who are planning to become pregnant or capable of becoming pregnant supplement daily with 400–800 mcg of folic acid starting at least 1 month before becoming pregnant and continuing through the first 2–3 months of pregnancy (7). Normal blood levels of folate range from 5–15 ng/mL. Plus, 5-methyltetrahydrofolate is associated with fewer medication interactions, less likely to mask a B12 deficiency, and better tolerated by those with genetic polymorphisms like MTHFR (40). Recommended treatment typically involves supplementing with biologically active 5-methyltetrahydrofolate and other B vitamins. May continue until clinical symptoms of folate deficiency and the hematological profile have normalized. Folic acid helps your body produce and maintain new cells, and also helps prevent changes to DNA that may lead to cancer. Last updated on Jan 4, 2019. Talk to your doctor about taking folic acid during pregnancy or while breast-feeding. Dosages vary widely, but most supplements deliver around 680–1,360 mcg DFE (400–800 mcg of folic acid) (7). Folic acid has gained recognition for its benefits … 0.1 mg orally, intramuscularly, subcutaneously or IV once a day. Most U.S. children and teens exceed daily folate intake recommendations through dietary folate sources as well, with an average daily intake of 417–547 mcg DFE per day for children and adolescents ages 2–19 (7). Many clinical studies show that when women take folic acid before conception, t… One of the most common uses of folic acid and folate supplements is the prevention of birth defects, specifically neural tube defects, including spina bifida and anencephaly — when a baby is born without parts of its brain or skull (7). Potential benefits of folic acid include a reduced risk of cancer, improved cognitive function, stronger bones, enhanced heart health, better pregnancy outcomes and reduced symptoms of restless legs syndrome… Learn about…. The dosages of other medications you take may need to be changed while you are taking folic acid. Folic acid deficiency anemia is caused by having too little folate (vitamin B9) in your blood. It should be noted that supplementing with 5-methyltetrahydrofolate rather than folic acid may reduce potential interactions with certain medications, including methotrexate (3). High … Folic Acid and Pregnancy: How Much Do You Need? Folate plays a critical role in cell growth during the embryonic phase of fetal development . This is because taking large doses of folic acid can correct megaloblastic anemia, a condition characterized by the production of large, abnormal, underdeveloped red blood cells that’s seen with severe B12 deficiency (7). Even normal but low folate levels are associated with an increased risk of mental impairment in older adults (11, 12). Usual Pediatric Dose for Folic Acid Deficiency: Infant: When taken in supplement form, 5-methyltetrahydrofolate has the same — if not slightly higher — bioavailability than folic acid supplements (3). However, supplementing with folic acid does not correct the neurological damage that occurs with B12 deficiency. Taking a daily prenatal vitamin — ideally starting three months before conception — can help ensure women get enough of this essential nutrient. Although folic acid and folate supplements are typically used to treat the same conditions, they have different effects in the body and, therefore, may affect health in different ways, which will be explained later in this article. Additionally, folic acid supplements have been shown to improve blood flow, which may help improve cardiovascular function (21). Because of this variability in absorption, DFEs were developed according to the following equation (4): Adults need about 400 mcg DFE of folate per day to replenish daily folate losses. But is there any evidence that folic acid is a hair-growth treatment? The main form of folate in the blood is called 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (1, 5). For example, on average, adult men consume 602 mcg DFE per day, and adult women consume 455 mcg DFE per day, exceeding the 400 mcg DFE intake requirement through food alone (7). Benefits of folic acid Folic acid helps the body make new cells, including red blood cells. Folic acid is used to: treat or prevent folate … > 10 years: 0.5 orally, intramuscularly, subcutaneously or IV once a day. Folinic acid is a naturally occurring folate that’s found in foods and commonly known as leucovorin in the clinical setting. People with depression have been shown to have lower blood levels of folate than people without depression (15). They found that sperm count increased in 74% of the men. Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances. Because a high intake of folic acid can result in high levels of unmetabolized folic acid in the blood and may be associated with negative health outcomes, many experts suggest that pregnant women take 5-methyltetrahydrofolate, the biologically active form of folate, rather than folic acid (40). If it is almost time for your next dose, wait until then to take the medicine and skip the missed dose. In a study published in the journal Fertility and Sterility, men were given 5 mg of folic acid and 66 mg of zinc a day for 26 weeks. Though some studies have associated high maternal levels of folic acid with a decreased risk of autism and improved mental outcomes in children, others have associated high levels of unmetabolized folic acid in the blood with an increased risk of autism and negative effects on neurocognitive development. This suggests that supplementing with folic acid around week 14 of pregnancy was more common in women whose children later developed ASD (42). Some studies have shown that 5-methyltetrahydrofolate has superior absorbability over other forms of synthetic folate (3, 52). A folate deficiency can lead to complications, especially in pregnant women. Synthesized folic acid differs structurally from folate and has slightly different biological effects in the body. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. Ask your doctor about taking folic acid if you are breast-feeding. Benefits of folic acid for women are wide-ranging and mainly relate to disease prevention. Another study in 121 people with newly diagnosed Alzheimer’s disease who were being treated with the medication donepezil found that those who took 1,250 mcg of folic acid per day for 6 months had improved cognition and reduced markers of inflammation, compared with those who took donepezil alone (14). Folic acid is also sold in concentrated form in dietary supplements. Additionally, high maternal folate levels have been associated with a significantly reduced risk of preterm birth (37, 38). Folic acid is a synthetic, water-soluble vitamin used in supplements and fortified foods. Your doctor may occasionally change your dose to make sure you get the best results from this medication. © 2005-2020 Healthline Media a Red Ventures Company. Research has shown that low blood folate levels are associated with poor brain function and an increased risk of dementia. Generic Name: folic acid (FOE lik AS id) There are many derivatives of folate. The UL for synthetic folate in supplements and fortified foods is as follows (7): Research has shown that most children in the United States have adequate folate intake through diet, and between 33–66% of children ages 1–13 who supplement with folic acid exceed the UL for their age group due to the intake of fortified foods and supplements (7). Having elevated levels of the amino acid homocysteine is associated with an increased risk of developing heart disease. Folic acid is a synthetic form of folate, a water-soluble B vitamin. As mentioned above, due to differences in metabolism, only a high intake of folic acid through fortified food or supplements may result in high blood levels of unmetabolized folic acid (36, 41.). EAR is the average daily intake of a nutrient estimated to meet the requirements of 50% of healthy individuals (7, 6). What’s more, a review of 7 studies found that treatment with folate-based supplements alongside antipsychotic medication resulted in reduced negative symptoms in people with schizophrenia, compared with antipsychotic medication alone (17). Brand Names: FA-8, Folacin-800. Folic Acid and the Aging Brain The demographic group with the highest incidence of folate deficiency is the elderly. Initial dose: 1 mg orally, intramuscularly, subcutaneously or IV once a day. Subscribe to Drugs.com newsletters for the latest medication news, new drug approvals, alerts and updates. Less serious side effects are more likely, but may include: bitter or unpleasant taste in your mouth; This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Alcohol interferes with folate absorption and increases urinary excretion. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088. People who regularly consume large amounts of alcohol may benefit from supplementing with folate (50). For example, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an independent panel of national disease-prevention experts, recommends that all women who are planning to become pregnant or capable of becoming pregnant supplement daily with 400–800 mcg of folic acid starting at least 1 month before becoming pregnant and continuing through the first 2–3 months of pregnancy (7). Even so, high dose supplementation should be avoided unless under medical supervision. Talk to your doctor about taking folic acid during pregnancy. Folic acid is known to benefit pregnant women, but it's useful for non-pregnant women too. Folate helps the body make healthy red blood cells and is found in certain foods. Top 10 Benefits Of Folic Acid Supplements On Health Are Revealed 1. If you don't get enough from your diet or folic acid supplements, you may develop a folate deficiency. Another possible risk of high folic acid intake is that taking high doses of synthetic folic acid may mask a vitamin B12 deficiency. 2. Take folic acid with a full glass of water. As such, they may have elevated levels of homocysteine, which may increase heart disease risk. Folic acid benefits the skin in numerous ways. What You Need to Know About the MTHFR Gene, B-Complex Vitamins: Benefits, Side Effects and Dosage, 15 Healthy Foods That Are High in Folate (Folic Acid), Vitamin B12 and Folic Acid Not Miracle Brain-Boosters, the synthesis, repair, and methylation — the addition of a methyl group — of DNA, the conversion of homocysteine to methionine, an amino acid that’s used for protein synthesis or converted into S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe), a compound that acts as a primary methyl donor in your body and is necessary for numerous cellular reactions, diseases or surgeries that affect folate absorption in the digestive system, including celiac disease, gastric bypass, and short bowel syndrome, achlorhydria or hypochlorhydria (absent or low stomach acid), drugs that affect folate absorption, including methotrexate and sulfasalazine, 1 mcg of DFEs = 1 mcg of naturally occurring food folate = 0.5 mcg of folic acid taken in the form of supplements on an empty stomach = 0.6 mcg of folic acid ingested with foods. Available for Android and iOS devices. For example, a review that included 30 studies and over 80,000 people demonstrated that supplementing with folic acid led to a 4% reduction in overall heart disease risk and a 10% reduction in stroke risk (19). Research has shown that supplementing with folic acid may reduce homocysteine levels and heart disease risk. Naturally occurring folate has a much lower absorbability of around 50%. However, other studies have concluded that high folic acid intake and high levels of unmetabolized folic acid in the bloodstream may have a negative effect on neurocognitive development and increase autism risk, which will be discussed in the next section (36). Folic acid is a type of B vitamin that is normally found in foods such as dried beans, peas, lentils, oranges, whole-wheat products, liver, asparagus, beets, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and spinach. Folate plays a major role in the metabolism of homocysteine, and low folate levels can contribute to high homocysteine levels, known as hyperhomocysteinemia (18).
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