Folic acid is a type of B vitamin that is normally found in foods such as dried beans, peas, lentils, oranges, whole-wheat products, liver, asparagus, beets, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and spinach.
Folic acid helps your body produce and maintain new cells, and also helps prevent changes to DNA that may lead to cancer.
As a medication, folic acid is used to treat folic acid deficiency and certain types of anemia (lack of red blood cells) caused by folic acid deficiency.
Folic acid is sometimes used in combination with other medications to treat pernicious anemia. However it will not treat Vitamin B12 deficiency and will not prevent possible damage to the spinal cord. Take all of your medications as directed.
You should not use this medication if you have ever had an allergic reaction to folic acid.
If you have any of these other conditions, you may need a dose adjustment or special tests to safely use folic acid:
- kidney disease (or if you are on dialysis);
- hemolytic anemia;
- pernicious anemia;
- anemia that has not been diagnosed by a doctor and confirmed with laboratory testing;
- an infection; or
- if you are an alcoholic.
FDA pregnancy category A. Folic acid is not expected to be harmful to an unborn baby, and your dose needs may even increase while you are pregnant. Talk to your doctor about taking folic acid during pregnancy. Your dose needs may also be different if you are breast-feeding a baby. Ask your doctor about taking folic acid if you are breast-feeding.
Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction to folic acid: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Less serious side effects are more likely, but may include:
- nausea, loss of appetite;
- bloating, gas;
- bitter or unpleasant taste in your mouth;
- sleep problems;
- depression; or
- feeling excited or irritable.
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.