folic acid (folate, vitamin B9, FA-8, Folacin, Folic Acid, GNC Folic Acid 400, and many more)

  • Pharmacy Author:
    Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD

    Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

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GENERIC NAME: folic acid (folate), vitamin B9

BRAND NAME: FA-8, Folacin, Folic Acid, GNC Folic Acid 400, and many more

DISCONTINUED BRAND: Folicet

DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Folic acid and folate are water-soluble forms of vitamin B9 that is naturally found in many of the foods we eat. Folate occurs naturally in food while folic acid is the man-made form of this important vitamin. Common dietary sources of folate include

  • green leafy vegetables,
  • fruits and fruit juices,
  • nuts,
  • beans,
  • peas,
  • dairy products,
  • poultry,
  • meats,
  • eggs,
  • seafood,
  • grains,
  • yeast,
  • beef kidney, and
  • beef liver.

Additionally, folic acid is added to many food products (fortified) and is available as a dietary supplement.

Folic acid is an important vitamin that is needed for the proper development of the human body. Folic acid is needed to make DNA and other genetic material and for the synthesis of red blood cells. Folic acid deficiency can cause megaloblastic anemia, a red blood cell disorder that can cause symptoms of weakness, fatigue, trouble concentrating, irritability, headache, abnormal heartbeats, and shortness of breath. Folic acid is necessary for healthy skin, hair, and nails. Therefore, folic acid deficiency may cause sores in the mouth, and changes in the color of the skin, hair, or fingernails. Additionally, maintaining healthy levels of folic acid during pregnancy is very important. Pregnant women who do not get enough folic acid are at risk of giving birth to babies with neural tube defects such as spina bifida. Folic acid deficiency during pregnancy may also increase the likelihood of having a premature delivery or a low weight baby.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/8/2015

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