What is folic acid?


Generic Name: Folic Acid Brand Name(s): Generics only. No brands available.

Know the basics

What is folic acid used for?

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.

Folic acid helps your body produce and maintain new cells, and also helps prevent changes to DNA that may lead to cancer.

As a medication, folic acid is used to treat folic acid deficiency and certain types of anemia (lack of red blood cells) caused by folic acid deficiency.

Folic acid is sometimes used in combination with other medications to treat pernicious anemia. However it will not treat Vitamin B12 deficiency and will not prevent possible damage to the spinal cord. Take all of your medications as directed.

How should I take folic acid?

Take folic acid exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Do not take it in larger amounts or for longer than recommended. Follow the directions on your prescription label.

Take folic acid with a full glass of water.

Your doctor may occasionally change your dose to make sure you get the best results from this medication.

How do I store folic acid?

Folic acid is best stored at room temperature away from direct light and moisture. To prevent drug damage, you should not store folic acid in the bathroom or the freezer. There may be different brands of folic acid that may have different storage needs. It is important to always check the product package for instructions on storage, or ask your pharmacist. For safety, you should keep all medicines away from children and pets.

You should not flush folic acid down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. It is important to properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist for more details about how to safely discard your product.

Know the precautions & warnings

What should I know before using folic acid?

You should not use this medication if you have ever had an allergic reaction to folic acid.

If you have any of these other conditions, you may need a dose adjustment or special tests to safely use folic acid:

  • kidney disease (or if you are on dialysis);
  • hemolytic anemia;
  • pernicious anemia;
  • anemia that has not been diagnosed by a doctor and confirmed with laboratory testing;
  • an infection;
  • if you are an alcoholic.

Is it safe to take folic acid during pregnancy or breast-feeding?

There are no adequate studies in women for determining risk when using this medication during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. Please always consult with your doctor to weigh the potential benefits and risks before taking this medication. This medication is pregnancy risk category A according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

FDA pregnancy risk category reference below:

  • A=No risk,
  • B=No risk in some studies,
  • C=There may be some risk,
  • D=Positive evidence of risk,
  • X=Contraindicated,
  • N=Unknown

Know the side effects

What are the side effects of folic acid?

Folic Acid usually has very few side effects. If you have any unusual effects from taking this product, tell your doctor. If you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), dizziness, or trouble breathing, seek medical help immediately.

Not everyone experiences these side effects. There may be some side effects not listed above. If you have any concerns about a side-effect, please consult your doctor or pharmacist.

Know the interactions

What drugs may interact with folic acid?

Folic acid may interact with other drugs that you are currently taking, which can change how your drug works or increase your risk for serious side effects. To avoid any potential drug interactions, you should keep a list of all the drugs you are using (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. For your safety, do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any drugs without your doctor’s approval.

Using this dietary supplement with any of the following medicines may cause an increased risk of certain side effects, but using both drugs may be the best treatment for you. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.

  • Fosphenytoin;
  • Phenytoin;
  • Tea.

Does food or alcohol interact with folic acid?

Folic acid may interact with food or alcohol by altering the way the drug works or increase the risk for serious side effects. Please discuss with your doctor or pharmacist any potential food or alcohol interactions before using this drug.

What health conditions may interact with folic acid?

Folic acid may interact with your health condition. This interaction may worsen your health condition or alter the way the drug works. It is important to always let your doctor and pharmacist know all the health conditions you currently have.

Understand the Dosage

The information provided is not a substitute for medical advice. ALWAYS consult your doctor or pharmacist before using this medication.

What is the dose of folic acid for an adult?

Usual Adult Dose for Megaloblastic Anemia:
1 mg orally, intramuscularly, subcutaneously or intravenous once a day. May continue until clinical symptoms of folate deficiency and the hematological profile have normalized.

Usual Adult Dose for Folic Acid Deficiency
400 to 800 mcg orally, intramuscularly, subcutaneously or intravenous once a day.
Women of childbearing age, pregnant, and lactating women: 800 mcg orally, intramuscularly, subcutaneously or intravenous once a day.

What is the dose of folic acid for a child?

Usual Pediatric Dose for Folic Acid Deficiency
0.1 mg orally, intramuscularly, subcutaneously or intravenous once a day.
Less than 4 years: up to 0.3 mg orally, intramuscularly, subcutaneously or intravenous once a day.
4 years or older: 0.4 mg orally, intramuscularly, subcutaneously or intravenous once a day.

Usual Pediatric Dose for Vitamin/Mineral Supplementation
Recommended daily allowance (RDA):
Premature neonates: 50 mcg/day (15 mcg/kg/day).
Full-term neonates and infants 1 to 6 months: 25 to 35 mcg/day.
1 to 3 years: 150 mcg/day.
4 to 8 years: 200 mcg/day.
9 to 13 years: 300 mcg/day.
14 years and older: 400 mcg/day

How is folic acid available?

Folic acid is available in the following dosage forms and strengths:

Capsule, Oral: 5 mg, 20 mg
Solution, Injection, as sodium folate: 5 mg/mL
Tablet, Oral: 400 mcg, 800 mcg, 1 mg
Tablet, oral [preseverative free]: 400 mcg, 800 mcg

What should I do in case of an emergency or overdose?

In case of an emergency or an overdose, call your local emergency services or go to your nearest emergency room.

Overdose symptoms may include numbness or tingling, mouth or tongue pain, weakness, tired feeling confusion, or trouble concentrating.

What should I do if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose of folic acid, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your regular dose as scheduled. Do not take a double dose.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: May 30, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017

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