Folate test

folate test

Last Updated December 20th, 2021

What is Folate?

The naturally occurring form of vitamin B9 is called Folate. It was formerly known as folacin. Folate is a generic name for both the naturally occurring folate and folic acid. Before entering your bloodstream, most dietary folate is converted into 5-MTHF into our digestive system.

The most common natural sources of Folate are – green leafy vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, peas, dairy products, poultry, meat, seafood, grains, etc. Folic acid is also widely available as supplements. Your body does not store folic acid and a regular supply of this vitamin is required through the foods you eat or through supplements.

What are the functions of the Folate in the body?

There are various functions of Folate or Folic acid in the body. Some of the common functions are:

– It helps tissues grow as well as in cell functioning.
– Folate combines with vitamin B12 and vitamin C to help the body metabolize, use, and create new proteins.
– It helps in the production of the red blood cells (helps prevent anemia).
– It helps in the production of the DNA(carries genetic information) which is the building block of the human body.
– Preventing hearing impairment.
– Preserving the brain health of an infant

What is the Folate test?

The Folate test is used to measure and monitor the levels of folic acid in the blood. The Folate test is also called  Folic Acid, RBC Folate, Folacin. A folic acid test is often coupled with a test for the Vitamin B12 levels because a lack of either vitamin may cause anemia.

Why did my doctor recommend me to undergo the Folate test?

Your doctor might ask you to undergo the Folate test if he wants to diagnose some conditions. Some of the common conditions are as follows:

– To diagnose the cause of anemia, the doctor might ask you to undergo the Folate test. 

– If your health practitioner wants to check for malnutrition or problems absorbing (malabsorption) folic acid.

– When your doctor recommends you to undergo the Folate test, he might want to evaluate if treatment for folic acid deficiency or vitamin B12 deficiency is complying with the body.

– For checking if a pregnant woman has enough folic acid to prevent certain birth defects and allow her baby to grow normally, the Folate test is highly recommended by the doctors.

When should I go for the Folate test?

Folate deficiency symptoms are often subtle. The most common symptoms include:

– Fatigue  
– Early greying of hair
– Formation of mouth sores
– Swelling of tongue
– Growth problems

The symptoms of anemia that occur due to folate deficiency include:

– Persistent tiredness and fatigue
– Weakness 
– A pale tone of the skin 
– Dyspnea(Shortness of breath)
– Irritability and shifts of mood

The higher levels of Folate cause Folate toxicity which might cause neurological injury when given to patients with undiagnosed pernicious anemia.

What are the preparations needed for the Folate test?

– Fasting is required for 8 hours to 10 hours before the test is conducted.

– You should inform your doctor about all the medications you had been already taking. He will suggest to you the way the medications have to be taken before the test.

– No new medications are included.

What is the procedure of the Folate test?

The procedure of the Folate test involves the collection of the blood sample. The blood sample is collected by the procedure of venipuncture. The procedure of venipuncture is conducted by the following steps:

– A tourniquet is wrapped around the upper arm to make the veins more prominent.

– A syringe or needle is used to draw blood by puncturing the vein.

– The blood is drawn into the tube of the syringe.

– The tourniquet is unwrapped.

– An antiseptic is applied to the spot of venipuncture to avoid any infection.

– The spot of injection of the syringe is dabbed by a cotton swab or a bandage is put to stop any further bleeding.

The blood sample is then sent to the laboratory for the Folate test.

Is the Folate test procedure painful?

There’s no pain associated with the collection of the blood sample. A person might feel a pin pricking sensation for a very brief moment after the test. There are no risks associated as such.

What are the risks of the Folate test?

There are some minute risks associated with the folate test. Those risks are as follows:
– Some people feel light-headed and dizzy after the blood is drawn.
– It might cause Hematoma (blood accumulating under the skin causing a lump or bruise).
– There might be pain associated with too many punctures for finding a vein.

What is the price of the Folate Test in India?

The average price of the Folate Test can range from Rs 850 to Rs 2250 in India. It varies with the location of the laboratory or the diagnostic center. 

When will I get my reports?

You can expect the Folate Test result within 24 to 36 hours of the diagnosis.

What does my Folate test result depict?

The clinical references of the Folate levels with respect to age are elaborated in the chart below: 

Age  ng/mL μg/L nmol/L
Infants  14-51 14-51 31.7-115.5
Children  5-21 5-21 11.3-47.6
Adults 2-20 2-20 4.5-45.3 

According to your age, if you are having Folate below the referred levels, you are certainly diagnosed with Folate deficiency. It has adverse effects on health. Having higher levels of Folate in the blood is considered as Folate Toxicity. This causes several diseases as well.

What does it mean if I have lower levels of Folate in the blood?

Having lower levels of  Folate in the blood or Folate deficiency indicates the following:

– Anemia
– Deficiency of Folic acid
– Poor absorption of vitamins and minerals.

What does it mean if I have higher levels of Folate in the blood?

Having higher levels of Folate in the body might indicate the following conditions:

– Pernicious Anaemia
– Blind Loop Syndrome
– Increased food intake

Is the Folate test recommended for pregnant women?

The Folate test is considered as one of the compulsory prenatal tests. The folate test helps in determining the levels of folate in the serum of the mother which helps in evaluating if the unborn is having any birth defects. The mother should have an intake of 600micrograms/day of Folate during the pregnancy phase.

Any abnormalities in the levels of Folate in the blood can lead to birth defects in the baby like neural tube defects. Folate plays a very significant role in the development of the brain and the spinal cord of the fetus, hence it is highly recommended for a pregnant woman to undergo the Folate test.

Is it recommended for my newborn to undergo the folate test?

A newborn has to undergo the Folate test for the determination of the levels of Folate in the blood. Abnormal levels of Folate in the blood in an infant can have adverse effects on health. Especially if your newborn is not getting breastfed, it is highly suggested for your newborn to undergo the Folate test.

It doesn’t pose any threat to your newborn. The procedure of blood sample collection is done by pricking the heels of the newborn. It involves minute risk of bruising and hematoma. There is no pain associated except for the pinpricking sensation during the blood collection. The pain wears off in a few hours or a day.

When should I take my adolescent for the Folate test?

If your adolescent is not anemic, the symptoms might be the following:

– Glossitis(inflammation of the tongue)
– Diarrhea 
– Depression 
– Confusions and skepticism 

If your adolescent is anemic, he or she might be experiencing the following symptoms:

– Extreme tiredness
– A sudden shift of appetite
– Abrupt weight loss
– Persisting headaches or migraines 
– Irregular heart rate
– Sore tongue
– Very frequent  mood changes 
– Lack of concentration
– Shortness of breath

What is the prevalence of birth defects in India?

In India is 6-7% of the newborns are having birth defects. Around 1.7 million babies are born with birth defects in India, annually.


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