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Clinician’s Corner: Folic Acid

Folic Acid—Vitamin B-9—Probably the most important B vitamin!

Mechanism: Folic acid is required for normal Red Blood Cell formation. Stimulates the production of red & white blood cells and platelets in certain anemias.

Dietary sources: Folate is found naturally in a wide variety of foods, such dark green leafy vegetables, fruits and fruit juices, nuts, beans, peas, dairy products, poultry and meat, eggs, seafood, and grains. Spinach, liver, yeast, asparagus, and Brussels sprouts are among the foods with the highest levels of folate. By FDA requirement, manufacturers add folic acid to enriched breads, cereals, flours, corn meals, pastas, rice, and other grain products, since 1998. This accounts for 100-180mcg per day.

Indications for use: anemia due to deficiency of folic acid.

Pregnancy: decreased incidence of Spina bifida and anencephaly. Because of its role in the synthesis of DNA and other critical cell components, folate is especially important during phases of rapid cell growth.  Supplement 400-800mcg before pregnancy occurs, since the neural tube closes between day 21 and 28 after conception.  All women of child bearing capability should be taking supplemental folic acid of at least 400mcg. Since 1998, when the mandatory folic acid fortification program took effect in the United States, spinal bifida and anencephaly rates have declined by 25% to 30%. Keep in mind that half of pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, adequate folate status is especially important even before conception (planned or unplanned) occurs.

Alcoholism: People with alcohol dependence frequently have poor-quality diets that contain insufficient amounts of folate.

Cardiovascular: Folic acid does not actually decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease, although it appears to provide protection from stroke.

DRUGS that LOWER folic acid: ask your Thompson Pharmacist to check your medication list.  Many commonly used drugs for rheumatoid arthritis, stomach acid, birth control pills and some antibiotics may deplete folic acid.

Folic Acid is available in multivitamins, prenatal vitamins, single entity over the counter 400mcg and 800mcg, and prescription strength 1mg. Be sure to buy a bottle of folic acid and slip into the Christmas stocking of the child bearing woman in your life. That’s the pharmacist and grandfather in me talking!

Your Thompson Pharmacist will gladly explain the benefits of folic acid supplementation, Go Ahead and ASK, at Thompson Pharmacy it’s all for YOU!