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folic acid

Pronunciation

Generic Name: folic acid (FOE lik AS id)
Brand Name: FA-8, Folacin-800, FaLessa

What is folic acid?

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, folic acid will not treat Vitamin B12 deficiency and will not prevent possible damage to the spinal cord. Take all of your medications as directed.

Folic acid may also be used for other purposes not listed in this medication guide.

What is the most important information I should know about folic acid?

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

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.

Talk to your doctor about taking folic acid during pregnancy or while breast-feeding.

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

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking 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 this medication:

  • 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; or

  • if you are an alcoholic.

FDA pregnancy category A. Folic acid is not expected to be harmful to an unborn baby, and your dose needs may even increase while you are pregnant. Talk to your doctor about taking folic acid during pregnancy.

Your dose needs may also be different if you are breast-feeding a baby. Ask your doctor about taking folic acid if you are breast-feeding.

How should I take folic acid?

Take this medication 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.

Store folic acid at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, wait until then to take the medicine and skip the missed dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention if you think you have used too much of this medicine.

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

What should I avoid while taking folic acid?

Follow your doctor's instructions about any restrictions on food, beverages, or activity.

Folic acid side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Less serious side effects are more likely, but may include:

  • nausea, loss of appetite;

  • bloating, gas;

  • bitter or unpleasant taste in your mouth;

  • sleep problems;

  • depression; or

  • feeling excited or irritable.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Folic acid dosing information

Usual Adult Dose for Megaloblastic Anemia:

Usual therapeutic dose: 1 mg daily, orally, intramuscularly, IV, or subcutaneously
-Resistant cases may require larger doses

Maintenance dose:
-0.4 mg daily (adults)
-0.8 mg daily (pregnancy and lactation)
Minimum dose: 0.1 mg daily

Comments:
-Oral administration is preferred; patients who cannot absorb food folates are usually able to absorb oral folic acid.
-Do not use doses greater than 0.1 mg unless B12 deficiency anemia has been ruled out or is being adequately treated.
-Closely supervise patients; adjust maintenance dose if relapse appears imminent.
-Maintenance level may need to be increased for alcoholism, hemolytic anemia, anticonvulsant therapy, or chronic infection.

Uses: Megaloblastic anemia due to folic acid deficiency (e.g. sprue) and anemias of nutritional origin or pregnancy

Usual Adult Dose for Folic Acid Deficiency:

Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA):
400 mcg daily, orally, intramuscularly, IV, or subcutaneously

Pregnancy: 600 mcg daily
Lactation: 500 mcg daily

Usual Adult Dose for Vitamin/Mineral Supplementation during Pregnancy/Lactation:

Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA):
400 mcg daily, orally, intramuscularly, IV, or subcutaneously

Pregnancy: 600 mcg daily
Lactation: 500 mcg daily

Usual Pediatric Dose for Megaloblastic Anemia:

Usual therapeutic dose: 1 mg daily, orally, intramuscularly, IV, or subcutaneously
-Resistant cases may require larger doses

Maintenance dose:
-Infants: 0.1 mg daily
-Children under 4 years: 0.3 mg daily
-Children 4 years and older: 0.4 mg daily
Minimum dose: 0.1 mg daily

Comments:
-Oral administration is preferred; patients who cannot absorb food folates are usually able to absorb oral folic acid.
-Do not use doses greater than 0.1 mg unless B12 deficiency anemia has been ruled out or is being adequately treated.
-Closely supervise patients; adjust maintenance dose if relapse appears imminent.
-Maintenance level may need to be increased for alcoholism, hemolytic anemia, anticonvulsant therapy, or chronic infection.

Uses: Megaloblastic anemia due to folic acid deficiency (e.g. sprue) and anemias of nutritional origin, infancy, or childhood

Usual Pediatric Dose for Folic Acid Deficiency:

Usual therapeutic dose: 1 mg daily, orally, intramuscularly, IV, or subcutaneously
-Resistant cases may require larger doses

Maintenance dose:
-Infants: 0.1 mg daily
-Children under 4 years: 0.3 mg daily
-Children 4 years and older: 0.4 mg daily
Minimum dose: 0.1 mg daily

Comments:
-Oral administration is preferred; patients who cannot absorb food folates are usually able to absorb oral folic acid.
-Do not use doses greater than 0.1 mg unless B12 deficiency anemia has been ruled out or is being adequately treated.
-Closely supervise patients; adjust maintenance dose if relapse appears imminent.
-Maintenance level may need to be increased for alcoholism, hemolytic anemia, anticonvulsant therapy, or chronic infection.

Uses: Megaloblastic anemia due to folic acid deficiency (e.g. sprue) and anemias of nutritional origin, infancy, or childhood

Usual Pediatric Dose for Vitamin/Mineral Supplementation:

Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA):
0 to 6 months: 65 mcg orally daily
1 to 3 years: 150 mcg orally daily
4 to 8 years: 200 mcg orally daily
9 to 13 years: 300 mcg orally daily
14 and older: 400 mcg orally daily

What other drugs will affect folic acid?

The dosages of other medications you take may need to be changed while you are taking folic acid.

Tell your doctor about all other medications you use, especially:

  • phenytoin (Dilantin);

  • methotrexate (Rheumatrex, Trexall);

  • nitrofurantoin (Macrodantin, Macrobid);

  • pyrimethamine (Daraprim);

  • tetracycline (Ala-Tet, Brodspec, Sumycin);

  • a barbiturate such as butabarbital (Butisol), secobarbital (Seconal), pentobarbital (Nembutal), or phenobarbital (Solfoton); or

  • seizure medication such as phenytoin (Dilantin) or primidone (Mysoline).

This list is not complete and there may be other drugs that can interact with folic acid. Tell your doctor about all your prescription and over-the-counter medications, vitamins, minerals, herbal products, and drugs prescribed by other doctors. Do not start a new medication without telling your doctor.

See also: Side effects (in more detail)

Where can I get more information?

  • Your pharmacist can provide more information about folic acid.
  • Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
  • Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Copyright 1996-2012 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 5.02.

Date modified: September 05, 2017
Last reviewed: December 15, 2010

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