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Folic Acid

Folic Acid


Vitamin B12 and folate are two vitamins that are part of the B complex of vitamins. They are necessary for normal red blood cell (RBC) formation, repair of tissues and cells, and synthesis of DNA, the genetic material in cells. Both are nutrients that cannot be produced in the body and must be supplied by the diet.

Vitamin B12 and folate tests measure vitamin levels in the liquid portion of the blood (serum or plasma) to detect deficiencies. Sometimes the amount of folate inside red blood cells may also be measured.


Before you take a folic acid test, notify your doctor about any supplements or medications you may be taking, as some can interfere with the results. Your doctor will probably tell you to avoid food and liquids for six to eight hours before the folic acid test. It?s usually preferable to fast all night and to have an early appointment the next morning.


A folic acid test involves taking a small sample of blood. The blood is typically drawn from a vein on the inside of the elbow. A healthcare provider will perform the test by doing the following:

They?ll clean the area with an antiseptic. They?ll wrap an elastic band around your upper arm to slow down the flow of blood. This causes the veins below the band to swell. Once they find a vein, they?ll insert the needle and begin drawing blood. After they?ve collected the blood, they?ll remove the needle and apply a cotton ball to stop any bleeding. The puncture site will be covered with a bandage. The blood sample will then be sent to a laboratory for analysis. Your doctor will schedule a follow-up appointment with you to go over the results.

Result explanation

The normal reference range of folic acid in the blood is between 2.7 and 17.0 nanograms per milliliter.

Higher-than-normal folic acid levels usually aren?t problematic, but they may indicate a vitamin B-12 deficiency. Your body needs vitamin B-12 to use folic acid properly, so if vitamin B-12 levels are low, folic acid can?t be used. Your doctor may want to perform further testing to make sure elevated folic acid levels aren?t being caused by vitamin B-12 deficiency.

Lower-than-normal folic acid levels may indicate:

anemia folic acid deficiency malabsorption, or problems absorbing vitamins and minerals Your doctor will explain what your specific results mean and what your next steps should be.

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