Generic Name: Folic Acid
Brand Names: Opti-folate, 5MTHF
Other Names: Vitamin B9, folate, methylfolate
Available Dosage forms: Oral, Parenteral
What is Folic Acid?
Folic Acid or vitamin B9 is a member of the vitamin B complexes. B9 acts as a cofactor to enzymes involved in the induction of amino acids (pyrimidine, purine, and methionine) before they become incorporated into DNA or protein.
Apart from the production of essential amino acids, it serves the following purposes:
– Regulates iron in the blood
– Erythropoiesis (RBC production)
– Synthesizes neurotransmitters 1
Signs and symptoms of folate deficiency:
– Megaloblastic (Pernicious Anaemia)
– Oxidative stress
– Damage to neurons
Raised homocysteine levels are indicative of depression and associated folate and vitamin B12 deficiency.1 B9 is an important constituent of the one-carbon metabolic pathway involved in the synthesis of neurotransmitters. Deficiency of folic acid leads to defects in the pathway and subsequent pathophysiology of depression. The severity of depression can be assessed by serum levels of folate. In a pilot study, human subjects with low serum levels of folic acid needed a longer improvement period compared to those with normal levels of the vitamin. 2
How to use Folic Acid?
Folate-rich foods are easily accessible and should be a part of daily meal intake. Foods with an ample amount of folic acid include vegetables, fruits, liver, breakfast cereal, etc. However, deficiencies of methylfolate are quite common due to its water-soluble nature.
Pregnant women are specifically prescribed folic acid dosage to prevent potential neural tube defects in fetuses. The approved daily dosage for healthy individuals is 0.4 mg. It can be safely consumed by both adults and children both. Tablets are taken orally with water and with or without food. Parenteral administration involves routes other than the mouth or the alimentary canal and is recommended for people with severe deficiency.
What are the side effects of Folic Acid?
Folic acid is safe to consume, but there remains a possibility of an allergic reaction. Signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction are:
– Itching, swelling
These may vary among individuals. Visit your doctor immediately if you notice any of the signs mentioned above.
Who should not use Folic Acid?
– History of hypersensitivity to the supplements
– Drug interactions with anticonvulsants
Ensure that you give a detailed medical history to your health care provider about your conditions, the medications you’re on, and possible allergens sensitivity.
- Zhao G, Ford ES, Li C, Greenlund KJ, Croft JB, Balluz LS. Use of folic acid and vitamin supplementation among adults with depression and anxiety: a cross-sectional, population-based survey. Nutr J. 2011;10:102. doi:10.1186/1475-2891-10-102
- Erensoy, Habib. Vitamin B12 and Folic Acid in Depression and Anxiety: A Pilot Study. J Neuro Sci. 2020. doi: 10.4103/jnbs.jnbs_32_20.