Folate (Folic Acid) Serum Test

Folate (Folic Acid) Serum Test

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Test #002014Detect folate deficiency; monitor therapy with folate; evaluate megaloblastic and macrocytic anemia; evaluate alcoholic patients and those with prior jejunoileal bypass for morbid obesity or those with intestinal blind-loop syndrome

Also Known As: Vitamin B9


  • No Fasting Required.
  • Test Type: Blood
  • Test Results: 1-2 daysFolates are compounds of pteroylglutamic acid (PGA) that function as coenzymes in metabolic reactions involving the transfer of single-carbon units from a donor to a recipient compound. Folate, with vitamin B12, is essential for DNA synthesis, which is required for normal red blood cell maturation.2 Humans obtain folate from dietary sources including fruits, green and leafy vegetables, yeast, and organ meats.3 Folate is absorbed through the small intestine and stored in the liver.Low folate intake, malabsorption as a result of gastrointestinal diseases, pregnancy, and drugs such as phenytoin are causes of folate deficiency.4 Folate deficiency is also associated with chronic alcoholism.5 Folate and vitamin B12 deficiency impair DNA synthesis, causing macrocytic anemias. These anemias are characterized by abnormal maturation of red blood cell precursors in the bone marrow, the presence of megaloblasts, and decreased red blood cell survival.2Since both folate and vitamin B12 deficiency can cause macrocytic anemia, appropriate treatment depends on the differential diagnosis of the deficiency. A serum folate concentration 3 ng/mL is considered to represent clinical deficiency by the World Health Organization and numerous subsequent clinical studies.6,7 Serum folate measurement provides an early index of folate status3; however, folate is much more concentrated in red blood cells than in serum so the red blood cell folate measurement more closely reflects tissue stores.5,8 Erythrocytes incorporate folate as they are formed, and levels remain constant throughout the life span of the cell. RBC folate levels are less sensitive to short-term dietary effects than are serum folate levels. Red blood cell folate concentration is considered the most reliable indicator of folate status.3Low serum folate during pregnancy has been associated with neural tube defects in the fetus.9,10In the 1990s mandatory increased fortification of enriched cereal-grain products along with the requirement of folate-related health and nutrient content claims on food and dietary supplement products significantly increased the folic acid content of the US food supply.11-13 Several reports have shown that serum folate concentrations have increased in the general US population since these measures were implemented.11-13

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