Folic acid is a type of B vitamin. This article discusses the test to measure the amount of folic acid in the blood.
Folate - test
How the Test is Performed
Most of the time, blood is taken from a vein on the inside of the elbow or the back of the hand. The site is cleaned with germ-killing medicine (antiseptic). The health care provider wraps an elastic band around the upper arm to apply pressure to the area and make the vein swell with blood.
Next, the provider gently inserts a needle into the vein. The blood collects into an airtight vial or tube attached to the needle. The elastic band is removed from your arm.
Once the blood has been collected, the needle is removed, and the puncture site is covered to stop any bleeding.
In infants or young children, a sharp tool called a lancet may be used to puncture the skin and make it bleed. The blood collects into a small glass tube called a pipette, or onto a slide or test strip. A bandage may be placed over the area if there is any bleeding.
How to Prepare for the Test
You should not eat or drink for 6 hours before the test. Your provider may tell you to stop taking any drugs that may interfere with test results, including folic acid supplements.
Drugs that can decrease folic acid measurements include:
Birth control pills
Drugs to treat malaria
How the Test will Feel
You may feel slight pain or a little sting when the needle is inserted. There may be some throbbing at the site.
Folic acid helps form red blood cells and produce DNA that stores genetic codes. Taking the right amount of folic acid before and during pregnancy helps prevent neural tube defects, such as spina bifida.
Women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant should take at least 600 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day. Some women may need to take more if they have a history of neural tube defects in earlier pregnancies. Ask your provider how much you need.
The normal range is 2.7 to 17.0 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL).
Note: Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different labs. Talk to your health care provider about the meaning of your test results.
The examples above show the common measurements for results for these tests. Some labs use different measurements or may test different specimens.