How Much Folic Acid Should I Take?
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Folic acid, a synthetic vitamin folate version (also known as vitamin B9), plays a vital role in the body’s production of healthy red blood cells and is found in certain foods. This article aims to provide essential information about this, its benefits, and the appropriate dosages for various conditions.

What is Folic Acid?

Folate is a natural vitamin found in certain foods, while folic acid is its synthetic counterpart. Both forms are essential for proper cell division and DNA synthesis in the body. It can treat folate deficiency anaemia and supports healthy development during pregnancy. It can also reduce side effects from specific medicines.

Folic Acid Benefits

  • Treating Folate Deficiency Anaemia

Folic acid supplements effectively address folate deficiency anaemia, a condition where the body lacks sufficient folate, leading to a decreased number of healthy red blood cells (RBCs).

  • Promoting Healthy Pregnancy

During early pregnancy, folic acid plays a role in preventing neural tube defects in the developing baby, such as spina bifida. Medical experts advise expectant mothers to take these supplements before conception and continue throughout the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

  • Reducing Side Effects of Medications

Individuals undergoing treatment with methotrexate, a medication used for severe arthritis, Crohn’s disease, or psoriasis, may experience fewer side effects when taking folic acid alongside it.

  • Treating Iron Deficiency Anaemia

Folic acid can combine with ferrous fumarate (also known as Iron(II) fumarate) and ferrous sulphate (also known as Iron(II) sulfate) to treat iron deficiency anaemia.

  • Multivitamin and Mineral Supplement

It is also commonly included in multivitamins and mineral supplements to support overall health.

Dosage Recommendations

The appropriate folic acid dosage varies depending on the purpose of its use:

  • A dose before and during Early Pregnancy

For women planning to conceive and during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, the recommended daily dose is 400 micrograms.

  • Higher Risk of Neural Tube Defects

Doctors may advise pregnant women at a higher risk of neural tube defects to take an increased daily dose of 5mg.

  • Treating Folate Deficiency Anaemia

Adults and children over one year old should take 5mg of folic acid once a day. But doctors may increase the dose to 15mg daily in some cases.

  • Preventing Folate Deficiency Anaemia

Adults and children aged 12 years and over should take 5mg of folic acid once every 1 to 7 days for prevention.

  • Taking Methotrexate

For individuals taking methotrexate, the usual dose is 5mg once a week, on a different day than the day they take methotrexate. Some people may take 1mg to 5mg daily, apart from the day they take methotrexate.

Who Should Take Folic Acid?

It is generally safe for most adults and children. However, some individuals should exercise caution and consult their doctors before starting folic acid supplementation, including those who:

  • Have a history of allergic reactions to folic acid or any other medication.
  • Have low levels of vitamin B12 or pernicious anaemia.
  • Have cancer (unless they also have folate deficiency anaemia).
  • Are undergoing haemodialysis, a type of kidney dialysis.
  • Have a stent in their heart.

Important Considerations Before it’s Consumption

#1 Dosage Adjustments

Healthcare providers may adjust the prescribed dose of folic acid based on individual health conditions, age, and diet. They may also conduct blood tests to determine the appropriate dose.

#2 Administration

You can consume it either with or without food. If the folic acid is in liquid form, ensure measuring it using the provided syringe or spoon.

#3 Missed Doses

If you forget to take a dose, consume it when you remember. However, do not double the dose to compensate for a missed one.

#4 Interactions with Other Medications

Folic acid may interact with certain medications, such as methotrexate and some cancer treatments. Inform your doctor of all medications and supplements you are taking before starting this acid.

#5 Herbal Remedies and Supplements

Consult your pharmacist or doctor before combining folic acid with herbal remedies or supplements, especially those containing zinc, to avoid exceeding the recommended daily amount.

Final Verdict

Folic acid, a synthetic version of the natural vitamin folate, is essential for various bodily functions. It treats folate deficiency anaemia, promotes a healthy pregnancy, and minimises side effects from specific medications.

The appropriate dosage of folic acid depends on the specific condition and individual needs. While most people can safely take folic acid, those with certain health conditions should consult their doctors before supplementation. Following medical advice and guidelines will ensure safe and effective use of folic acid.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1) Can I take folic acid with other medications?

Before starting folic acid, it is crucial to inform your doctor about the medicines you are taking, as they may interact with certain drugs.

Q2) Are there any side effects?

It is generally safe and well-tolerated, but some people may experience mild side effects like nausea. If you have concerns, consult your healthcare provider.

Q3) Is folic acid safe during pregnancy?

Yes, folic acid is essential during pregnancy to prevent neural tube defects. Consult with your physician for the ideal dosage.

Q4) Can I give folic acid to children?

Most children can safely take folic acid, and their doctor will determine the appropriate dosage based on their age or weight and provide the necessary guidance.

Q5) How long should I take folic acid for folate deficiency anaemia?

The duration of this supplementation for folate deficiency anaemia depends on the underlying cause. It’s essential to follow your doctor’s instructions and not stop taking it without consulting them.

Mahantesh Karoshi
Mahantesh Karoshi

I'm a Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist and Women's Health Expert. I believe in educating my patients to contribute to achieving the best possible clinical and holistic outcomes. By taking this approach, I enable and empower my patients whilst addressing their issues and concerns. I run a private practice with an extremely high standard of professionalism. My patients are directly involved in their care and management in all stages. My approach to my patient's problems is built on dedication and passion, drawing on analytical thinking and my on-time honored reading, teaching medical professionals nationally and internationally.