What does a high folate level mean?


Quick Answer

In an otherwise healthy person, a high folate level usually indicates the person consumes a diet high in folic acid or takes vitamin supplements. The condition does not cause problems, according to WebMD. In elderly patients the high level sometimes indicates a vitamin B-12 deficiency and the need for further testing.

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Full Answer

Folic acid is one of the B-vitamins, according to WebMD. A lack of folic acid produces anemia in some patients. In women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant, a lack of folic acid increases the chance of neural tube birth defects.

The United States began fortifying products made with enriched flour with folic acid to help prevent folate-related birth defects. The fortification became cause for a growing concern that the amount of folic acid these women require is too much for others in the general population. However, a 2011 study by the NIH reveals the additional folate is not a problem. Older adults are more likely to be anemic if they have a high folate and low B-12, but this is due to their difficulty in absorbing B-12 after age 50. It is the lack of B-absorption and not the folic acid level causing anemia in these individuals. The NIH continues to recommend women who can become pregnant to consume a minimum of 400 micrograms of folate daily.

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