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Folic Acid Test

How It Is Done

The health professional drawing blood will:

  • Wrap an elastic band around your upper arm to stop the flow of blood. This makes the veins below the band larger so it is easier to put a needle into the vein.
  • Clean the needle site with alcohol.
  • Put the needle into the vein. More than one needle stick may be needed.
  • Attach a tube to the needle to fill it with blood.
  • Remove the band from your arm when enough blood is collected.
  • Put a gauze pad or cotton ball over the needle site as the needle is removed.
  • Put pressure on the site and then put on a bandage.

How It Feels

The blood sample is taken from a vein in your arm. An elastic band is wrapped around your upper arm. It may feel tight. You may feel nothing at all from the needle, or you may feel a quick sting or pinch.

Risks

There is very little chance of a problem from having a blood sample taken from a vein.

  • You may get a small bruise at the site. You can lower the chance of bruising by keeping pressure on the site for several minutes.
  • In rare cases, the vein may become swollen after the blood sample is taken. This problem is called phlebitis. A warm compress can be used several times a day to treat this.
  • Ongoing bleeding can be a problem for people with bleeding disorders. Aspirin, warfarin (such as Coumadin), and other blood-thinning medicines can make bleeding more likely. If you have bleeding or clotting problems, or if you take blood-thinning medicine, tell your doctor before your blood sample is taken.

Results

A folic acid test measures the amount of folic acid in the blood.

The normal values listed here—called a reference range—are just a guide. These ranges vary from lab to lab, and your lab may have a different range for what's normal. Your lab report should contain the range your lab uses. Also, your doctor will evaluate your results based on your health and other factors. This means that a value that falls outside the normal values listed here may still be normal for you or your lab.

Folate in liquid portion (plasma) of blood1
Adult

3–13 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL)

7–30 nanomoles per liter (nmol/L) (SI units)

Children

5–21 ng/mL

11–47 nmol/L

 

Folate in red blood cells1
Adult

140–628 ng/mL

317–1422 nmol/L (SI units)

Children

More than 160 ng/mL

More than 362 nmol/L

High values

  • High levels of folic acid in the blood may mean that you eat a diet rich in folic acid, take vitamins, or take folic acid pills. Consuming more folic acid than the body needs does not cause problems.
  • High folic acid levels can also mean a vitamin B12 deficiency. Body cells need vitamin B12 to use folic acid. So if vitamin B12 levels are very low, folic acid can't be used by the cells, and high levels of it may build up in the blood. But a folic acid test is not a reliable way to test for a vitamin B12 deficiency.

Low values

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: December 18, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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