What is Folic Acid Test?

A folic acid test is used to determine the amount of folic acid present in the blood at a specific time. Folate is the general term used for various forms of vitamin B9, including folic acid. Folates can be obtained naturally from numerous food sources, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, peas, dairy products, chicken, meat, seafood, and grains.

Folic acid is also added to vitamin supplements and fortified foods. There is a wide selection of folic acid supplements available in the market. The test is a safe procedure with minimal risks, such as slight bruising at the needle insertion site.

What is the folic acid test used for?

The folic acid test can be used to determine:

  • Identify the underlying cause of anaemia.
  • Evaluation of malnutrition or difficulties in absorbing folic acid.
  • Monitor medication efficacy for treating Vitamin B12 or folic acid deficiency.
  • Assess the levels of folic acid in women to prevent certain birth abnormalities and ensure proper foetal development.

Why do I need a folic acid test?

If you are experiencing symptoms such as diarrhea, fatigue, constipation, headache, swollen tongue, loss of appetite, numbness, and memory loss, it is advisable to undergo a folic acid test to determine if you have a deficiency in Vitamin B9. These symptoms may indicate a lack of folic acid in the bloodstream, and a proper diagnosis can help in identifying the underlying cause of the health issues.

What happens during a folic acid test?

When you go for a blood test, a healthcare provider will apply an elastic band to the upper arm to limit blood flow to the area. They will then clean the injection site to reduce the risk of infection. To extract the blood sample with minimal discomfort, the healthcare provider carefully draws the blood from the arm. After taking the required amount of blood, the lab technician will remove the needle and place a bandage or cotton wool over the injection site to prevent bleeding and promote healing.

What is the normal range for folic acid?

Folic acid levels in the blood should be between 2.7 and 17.0 nanograms per millilitre.

What happens if your folic acid is low?

If your folic acid levels are low, it could indicate various health issues, such as dietary deficiencies, or an eating disorder like anorexia nervosa. Additionally, it may be a sign of liver disease, celiac disease, sprue, or Crohn's disease. However, seeking medical advice before making any conclusive diagnosis is important. The doctor will assess the condition and develop an appropriate diagnosis and treatment plan based on the individual needs.

Symptoms of folic acid deficiencies are

  • A lack of energy.
  • Extreme tiredness.
  • Pins and needles (paraesthesia)
  • A sore and red tongue.
  • Mouth ulcers.
  • Muscle weakness.
  • Disturbed vision.
  • Psychological problems, which may include depression and confusion.

What does a high folic acid test mean?

Having high levels of folic acid in your blood may be a result of consuming a diet rich in folate or taking folic acid supplements or vitamins. However, it's important to note that the recommended upper limit for folic acid intake for adults is 1000 mcg per day. Exceeding this limit may lead to elevated levels of unmetabolized folic acid in the bloodstream. Therefore, it's essential to be mindful of folic acid intake to avoid any potential health risks.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Who should get a folic acid test?

A folic acid test is usually ordered for pregnant women or those who plan to become pregnant because folic acid deficiency during pregnancy can result in birth defects. It may also be prescribed for people with certain medical conditions, such as anemia or malabsorption disorders, or taking medications that can lower folic acid levels.

2. What are the normal levels of folic acid?

The normal range for folic acid levels in the blood is between 2 and 20 ng/mL

3. What does it mean if folic acid levels are low?

Low levels of folic acid can suggest a deficiency, leading to anemia, birth abnormalities, and other health concerns. Specific medications or medical problems can also cause it.

4. What does it mean if folic acid levels are high?

High levels of folic acid can be caused by taking supplements or eating fortified foods. It may be an indication of an underlying medical conditions in rare cases.

5. Are there any risks or side effects associated with a folic acid test?

There are minimal risks associated with a folic acid test, including slight bruising or bleeding at the needle insertion site.

6. What is the cost of a folic acid test?

The cost of a folic acid test starts from Rs. 399.