Folic acid is a water soluble vitamin. It has to be continuously supplied in food and other sources. Excess amounts are usually passed in the urine but can be toxic.
Folic acid is necessary for the maintenance of good health. It helps to produce red blood cells and helps prevent neural tube defects (Spina bifida) when taken prior to becoming pregnant and during early pregnancy (for products providing at least 400 ug/day). It plays a part in the formation and reproduction of all body cells. Some potential uses are prevention and progression of numerous conditions and diseases such as osteoporosis, cancer, heart diseases (reduces homocysteine levels when used in combination with Vitamin B-6 and B-12) which is a risk factor for heart disease), proper formation of red blood cells, depression.
Symptoms of Deficiency
Enlarged blood cells (megaloblastic anemia), diarrhea, gingivitis and an abnormal Pap smear in women, birth defects and poor growth, depression, sleep disturbance, irritability, forgetfulness, and loss of appetite, fatigue and shortness of breath, inflammation of tongue.
Causes of Deficiency
Poor diet, Pregnancy, smoking, excessive use of alcohol
Yeast, wheat, beans, lentils , walnuts, peanut butter, almonds, oatmeal, corn, mushrooms, dates, liver, meat, poultry, fruits, green vegetables.
Discuss the dosage and duration of use with the pharmacist before taking the medication. It can be taken with other medications for other conditions on the advice of a pharmacist or a doctor.
Health Canada has recommended a minimum and a maximum daily requirement for folic acid:
Minimum dose is 50ug for all age groups.
Upper limit for children:
1-3 years – 300 mcg/day of folate from fortified foods or supplements
4-8 years - 400 mcg/day of folate from fortified foods or supplements
9-13 years - 600 mcg/day of folate from fortified foods or supplements
14-18 years - 800 mcg/day of folate from fortified foods or supplements
Upper Limit for Adults:
19 years and older-1000 mcg/day of folate from fortified foods or supplements
If serious overdosage then contact the poison control center or emergency room. If you miss a dose then take it as soon as remembered, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose, and go back to the regular dosing regimen. If taken an extra dose by mistake then contact the pharmacist or a doctor.
Some of the symptoms of overdosage include worsening of neurological problems in people with pernicious anemia who are not taking vitamin B-12.
Tell the pharmacist/doctor if pregnant or planning to become pregnant or if breast feeding. Discuss the dosage - 400mcg/day.
Possible Side Effects
When starting to take any new medication, if one notices any side-effect, contact the physician or pharmacist:
This is not an all inclusive list, discuss it with the pharmacist:
Amino salicylic acid, ranitidine, cimetidine, oral contraceptives, phenytoin, phenobarbital, prim done, methotrexate, pyrmethamine, trimethoprim.
Store medication in a safe place at room temperature; away from heat, light and moisture. Do not store in the bathroom, near the kitchen sink or on top of the fridge. Out dated medications must be returned to the pharmacy for safe disposal.
Folic acid supplementation can mask deficiency of Vitamin B-12
Tell the pharmacist/doctor your complete medical history.
One must inform the pharmacist or doctor if taking any prescription medication, over the counter medication, herbal or alternative medications before starting any new medication, food supplement, herb or vitamin.