Generic name: folic acid (FOE-lik AS-id)
Drug class: Vitamins
Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Nov 6, 2021.
Commonly used brand name(s)
In the U.S.
- Nature's Blend Folic Acid
- ViloFane-Dp 7.5
Available Dosage Forms:
Therapeutic Class: Nutriceutical
Pharmacologic Class: Vitamin B (class)
Uses for folic acid
Vitamins are compounds that you must have for growth and health. They are needed in small amounts only and are usually available in the foods that you eat. Folic acid (vitamin B 9) is necessary for strong blood.
Lack of folic acid may lead to anemia (weak blood). Your health care professional may treat this by prescribing folic acid for you.
Some conditions may increase your need for folic acid. These include:
- Anemia, hemolytic
- Diarrhea (continuing)
- Fever (prolonged)
- Illness (prolonged)
- Intestinal diseases
- Liver disease
- Stress (continuing)
- Surgical removal of stomach
In addition, infants smaller than normal, breast-fed infants, or those receiving unfortified formulas (such as evaporated milk or goat's milk) may need additional folic acid.
Increased need for folic acid should be determined by your health care professional.
Some studies have found that folic acid taken by women before they become pregnant and during early pregnancy may reduce the chances of certain birth defects (neural tube defects).
Claims that folic acid and other B vitamins are effective for preventing mental problems have not been proven. Many of these treatments involve large and expensive amounts of vitamins.
Injectable folic acid is given by or under the direction of your health care professional. Another form of folic acid is available without a prescription.
Importance of Diet
For good health, it is important that you eat a balanced and varied diet. Follow carefully any diet program your health care professional may recommend. For your specific dietary vitamin and/or mineral needs, ask your health care professional for a list of appropriate foods. If you think that you are not getting enough vitamins and/or minerals in your diet, you may choose to take a dietary supplement.
Folic acid is found in various foods, including vegetables, especially green vegetables; potatoes; cereal and cereal products; fruits; and organ meats (for example, liver or kidney). It is best to eat fresh fruits and vegetables whenever possible since they contain the most vitamins. Food processing may destroy some of the vitamins. For example, heat may reduce the amount of folic acid in foods.
Vitamins alone will not take the place of a good diet and will not provide energy. Your body also needs other substances found in food such as protein, minerals, carbohydrates, and fat. Vitamins themselves often cannot work without the presence of other foods.
The daily amount of folic acid needed is defined in several different ways.
- For U.S.—
- Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) are the amount of vitamins and minerals needed to provide for adequate nutrition in most healthy persons. RDAs for a given nutrient may vary depending on a person's age, sex, and physical condition (e.g., pregnancy).
- Daily Values (DVs) are used on food and dietary supplement labels to indicate the percent of the recommended daily amount of each nutrient that a serving provides. DV replaces the previous designation of United States Recommended Daily Allowances (USRDAs).
- For Canada—
- Recommended Nutrient Intakes (RNIs) are used to determine the amounts of vitamins, minerals, and protein needed to provide adequate nutrition and lessen the risk of chronic disease.
Normal daily recommended intakes in micrograms (mcg) for folic acid are generally defined as follows:
|Infants and children
Birth to 3 years of age
|4 to 6 years of age||75–400||90|
|7 to 10 years of age||100–400||125–180|
|Adolescent and adult males||150–400||150–220|
|Adolescent and adult females||150–400||145–190|
Before using folic acid
If you are taking this dietary supplement without a prescription, carefully read and follow any precautions on the label. For this supplement, the following should be considered:
Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to folic acid or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.
Problems in children have not been reported with intake of normal daily recommended amounts.
Problems in older adults have not been reported with intake of normal daily recommended amounts.
Studies in women suggest that this medication poses minimal risk to the infant when used during breastfeeding.
Interactions with medicines
Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. When you are receiving this dietary supplement, it is especially important that your healthcare professional know if you are taking any of the medicines listed below. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.
Using this dietary supplement with any of the following medicines is usually not recommended, but may be required in some cases. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.
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.
Interactions with food/tobacco/alcohol
Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.
Other medical problems
The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of this dietary supplement. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:
- Pernicious anemia (a type of blood problem)—Taking folic acid while you have pernicious anemia may cause serious side effects. You should be sure that you do not have pernicious anemia before beginning folic acid supplementation
Proper use of folic acid
The dose of folic acid will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of folic acid. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.
The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.
- For oral dosage form (tablets):
- To prevent deficiency, the amount taken by mouth is based on normal daily recommended intakes:
- For the U.S.
- Adult and teenage males—150 to 400 micrograms (mcg) per day.
- Adult and teenage females—150 to 400 mcg per day.
- Pregnant females—400 to 800 mcg per day.
- Breast-feeding females—260 to 800 mcg per day.
- Children 7 to 10 years of age—100 to 400 mcg per day.
- Children 4 to 6 years of age—75 to 400 mcg per day.
- Children birth to 3 years of age—25 to 100 mcg per day.
- For Canada
- Adult and teenage males—150 to 220 mcg per day.
- Adult and teenage females—145 to 190 mcg per day.
- Pregnant females—445 to 475 mcg per day.
- Breast-feeding females—245 to 275 mcg per day.
- Children 7 to 10 years of age—125 to 180 mcg per day.
- Children 4 to 6 years of age—90 mcg per day.
- Children birth to 3 years of age—50 to 80 mcg per day.
- To treat deficiency:
- Adults, teenagers, and children—Treatment dose is determined by prescriber for each individual based on the severity of deficiency.
- To prevent deficiency, the amount taken by mouth is based on normal daily recommended intakes:
If you miss a dose of folic acid, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not double doses.
Store the dietary supplement in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Keep from freezing.
Keep out of the reach of children.
Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.
Folic acid side effects
Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.
Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:
- general weakness or discomfort
- reddened skin
- shortness of breath
- skin rash or itching
- tightness in chest
- troubled breathing
Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
Frequently asked questions
More about folic acid
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- During Pregnancy
- Dosage Information
- Patient Tips
- Drug Images
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- Drug class: vitamins
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