Folic Acid

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Folic acid and folate (the anion form) are forms of the water-soluble Vitamin B9. These occur naturally in food and can also be taken as supplements.

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

  • Take this medication only under the supervision of your doctor .

What is folic acid?

  • Folic acid is a naturally occurring substance that is important for the formation of red and white blood cells. Folic acid is present in foods such as dried beans, peas, lentils, oranges, whole-wheat products, liver, asparagus, beets, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and spinach.
  • As a medication, folic acid is used to treat folic acid deficiency and megaloblastic anemia caused by folic acid deficiency.
  • Folic acid may also be used for purposes other than those listed in this medication guide.

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking folic acid?

  • Folic acid should not be taken to treat undiagnosed anemia. Folic acid may hide the symptoms of pernicious anemia, leading to neurologic damage. Treatment of anemia during folic acid therapy may also require vitamin B12.
  • Folic acid is in the FDA pregnancy category A. This means that it is safe to take folic acid during pregnancy. In fact, increased amounts of folic acid are recommended during pregnancy to reduce the risk that a folic acid deficiency will cause complications. Talk to your doctor about taking folic acid during pregnancy.
  • It is safe to use folic acid during breast-feeding. Talk to your doctor about taking this medication if you are breast-feeding a baby.

How should I take folic acid?

  • Take folic acid exactly as directed by your doctor. If you do not understand these instructions, ask your doctor , nurse, or pharmacist to explain them to you.
  • Take each dose with a full glass of water.
  • Folic acid is usually taken every day. Follow your doctor's instructions.
  • Sometimes, it may be necessary to receive folic acid by injection.
  • 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. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the dose you missed, and take only your next regularly scheduled dose. Do not take a double dose of this medication unless otherwise directed by your doctor.

What happens if I overdose?

  • A folic acid overdose is unlikely to threaten life. Call an emergency room or poison control center for advice.
  • Symptoms of a folic acid overdose are not known.

What should I avoid while taking folic acid?

  • There are no restrictions on food, beverages, or activities while you are taking folic acid, unless your doctor directs otherwise.

What are the possible side effects of folic acid?

  • Side effects from folic acid are not common.
  • Stop taking folic acid and seek emergency medical treatment if you experience an allergic reaction (difficulty breathing; closing of your throat; swelling of your lips, tongue, or face; or hives).
  • Continue taking folic acid and talk to your doctor if you experience any of the following less serious side effects, which have occurred with large doses of folic acid:
    • nausea
    • decreased appetite
    • abdominal distention
    • flatulence
    • bitter or bad taste
    • insomnia
    • difficulty concentrating
  • Side effects other than those listed here may also occur. Talk to your doctor about any side effect that seems unusual or that is especially bothersome.

What other drugs will affect folic acid?

  • Large doses of folic acid may decrease the effects of phenytoin (Dilantin). Your doctor may need to adjust your dose of phenytoin to prevent seizures during treatment with folic acid.
  • Drugs other than those listed here may also interact with folic acid. Talk to your doctor and pharmacist before taking any prescription or over-the-counter medicines.