How and when to take folic acid (2024)

Dosage

How much folic acid you take and how long you take it for depends on why you need it.

Dose before and during early pregnancy

It is recommended to take folic acid while you're trying for a baby (ideally for 3 months before) and during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

The usual dose if you're trying to get pregnant and during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy is 400 micrograms, taken once a day.

Your doctor or midwife may recommend taking folic acid throughout pregnancy, particularly if you are at risk of anaemia or are anaemic.

If you have a higher chance of having a baby with a neural tube defect your doctor will recommended an increased dose of 5mg, taken once a day.

Dose for treating folate deficiency anaemia

To treat anaemia, the usual dose for adults and children over 1 year old is 5mg, taken once a day.

Sometimes the dose is increased to 15mg a day.

If your child is under 12 months old, the doctor will use your child's weight to work out the right dose.

You'll usually take it for 4 months. But if your folate deficiency anaemia is caused by a long-term problem, you may have to take folic acid for longer, possibly for the rest of your life. Do not stop taking folic acid without talking to your doctor.

Dose for preventing folate deficiency anaemia

To prevent anaemia, the usual dose for adults and children aged 12 years and over is 5mg, taken every 1 to 7 days.

The dose may vary depending on your age, diet and any other health conditions you have.

For children under 12, the doctor will use your child's age or weight to work out the right dose.

Dose if you're taking methotrexate

The usual dose for adults and children is 5mg once a week, on a different day of the week to your methotrexate.

Some people take 1mg to 5mg once a day, apart from the day when they take their methotrexate.

You'll usually take folic acid for as long as you take methotrexate. You may have to take it for a long time, possibly for the rest of your life.

Do not stop taking it without talking to your doctor. Stopping means you'll be more likely to get side effects from methotrexate, such as being sick (vomiting) and diarrhoea.

Changes to your dose

Usually your dose will stay the same.

Your dose may go up, however, if you're taking folic acid to prevent or treat anaemia and blood tests show you need a higher dose.

How to take it

You can take folic acid with or without food. Swallow the tablets whole with a drink of water.

If you're taking folic acid as a liquid, it will come with a plastic syringe or spoon to help you measure out the right dose. If you do not have one, ask your pharmacist for one. Do not use a kitchen teaspoon as it will not measure the right amount.

If you forget to take it

Missing 1 or 2 doses probably will not matter. But if you keep forgetting to take your folic acid, or you do not want to take it, speak to your doctor.

If you forget to take folic acid, what to do depends on how often you take it:

  • once a day – take your missed dose as soon as you remember, unless it's nearly time for your next dose. In this case skip the missed dose and just take your next dose at the usual time. If you remember on the day you take your methotrexate, wait a day and take your missed dose the following day
  • once a week – take your missed dose as soon as you remember, unless you take methotrexate that day. If you remember on the day you take your methotrexate, wait a day and take your missed dose the following day. After this, go back to taking your weekly dose on your usual day

Never take 2 doses to make up for a forgotten one.

If you often forget doses, it may help to set an alarm to remind you. You could also ask your pharmacist for advice on other ways to help you remember to take your medicine.

If you take too much

Folic acid is generally very safe. Taking too much is unlikely to cause any harm.

If you're worried, speak to your pharmacist or doctor.

How and when to take folic acid (2024)

FAQs

How and when to take folic acid? ›

All women need 400 micrograms of folic acid every day. Women who can get pregnant should get 400 to 800 micrograms of folic acid from a vitamin or from food that has added folic acid, such as breakfast cereal. This is in addition to the folate you get naturally from food. Some women may need more folic acid each day.

When should I take folic acid and how much? ›

Take a vitamin supplement with 400 mcg of folic acid each day, even if you're not trying to get pregnant. During pregnancy, take a prenatal vitamin each day that has 600 mcg of folic acid in it. Folic acid only works to prevent NTDs before and during the first few weeks of pregnancy.

How can I make sure I get enough folic acid? ›

Folate is found mainly in dark green leafy vegetables, beans, peas and nuts. Fruits rich in folate include oranges, lemons, bananas, melons and strawberries. The synthetic form of folate is folic acid. It's in an essential component of prenatal vitamins and is in many fortified foods such as cereals and pastas.

Is it better to take folic acid in the morning or at night? ›

What is the best time of day to take folic acid? Most nutritionists say to take supplements, like folic acid, in the morning. Digestion slows at night, so taking your vitamins in the morning will allow for better and more efficient absorption into your system.

What happens to your body when you take folic acid every day? ›

Folic acid may help reduce your risk of heart disease by reducing high blood pressure and improving blood flow. Studies show that supplementing with folic acid may lead to a 4% reduction in overall risk for heart disease and a 10% reduction in stroke risk.

What should I avoid while taking folic acid? ›

Cautions with other medicines

Folic acid can also affect the way other medicines work. Do not take your folic acid within 2 hours before or after taking indigestion remedies (antacids containing aluminium or magnesium), as they may stop the folic acid being properly absorbed.

What are the symptoms of low folic acid? ›

Symptoms of vitamin B12 or folate deficiency
  • extreme tiredness.
  • a lack of energy.
  • pins and needles.
  • a sore and red tongue.
  • mouth ulcers.
  • muscle weakness.
  • problems with your vision.
  • psychological problems, which can range from mild depression or anxiety to confusion and dementia.

How do I know if I can't absorb folic acid? ›

Folate deficiency occurs when your body doesn't get enough folate. Symptoms include fatigue, weakness, mouth sores and neurological issues. Folate deficiency can be prevented by eating a diet rich in foods that contain folate.

Is it better to take B12 or folic acid? ›

Folic acid will correct the anaemia of vitamin B12 deficiency and so delay diagnosis but will not prevent progression to neurological damage. For this reason trials of folic acid supplements may involve simultaneous administration of vitamin B12.

How do you increase folic acid absorption? ›

Eating a variety of healthy foods, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, as well as fortified foods, is an easy way to increase your folate intake. These foods are not only rich in folate but also high in other key nutrients that can improve other aspects of your health.

Can I take vitamin D and folic acid together? ›

Interactions between your drugs

No interactions were found between folic acid and Vitamin D3.

How quickly does folic acid work? ›

How long does folic acid take to work? Folic acid usually starts to work in a few hours. But if you're taking it for folate deficiency anaemia, it may be a few weeks before you start to feel better. It's important to keep taking your folic acid for as long as it's recommended.

What are the side effects of taking folic acid? ›

When taken by mouth: It is likely safe for most people to take folic acid in doses of no more than 1 mg daily. Doses higher than 1 mg daily may be unsafe. These doses might cause stomach upset, nausea, diarrhea, irritability, confusion, behavior changes, skin reactions, seizures, and other side effects.

Does folic acid help hair growth? ›

Folic acid is also important for hair health, as it helps to produce keratin, a protein that makes up the structure of hair. Deficiency in folic acid can lead to hair thinning and hair loss. Which is why it is often used as ingredient in hair growth products.

What is a safe amount of folic acid to take daily? ›

How much folate do I need?
Life StageRecommended Amount
Teens 14–18 years400 mcg DFE
Adults 19+ years400 mcg DFE
Pregnant teens and women600 mcg DFE
Breastfeeding teens and women500 mcg DFE
5 more rows
Nov 1, 2022

What is the best way to take folic acid? ›

You can take folic acid with or without food. Swallow the tablets whole with a drink of water. If you're taking folic acid as a liquid, it will come with a plastic syringe or spoon to help you measure out the right dose. If you do not have one, ask your pharmacist for one.

Should I take 400 or 600 mcg folic acid? ›

For folate, the DV is 400 micrograms (mcg) of dietary folate equivalents (DFE). However, individuals who are pregnant should consume 600 mcg DFE daily, and individuals who are breastfeeding should consume 500 mcg DFE daily.

Why do doctors prescribe 5mg of folic acid? ›

Your doctor or midwife may recommend taking folic acid throughout pregnancy, particularly if you are at risk of anaemia or are anaemic. If you have a higher chance of having a baby with a neural tube defect your doctor will recommended an increased dose of 5mg, taken once a day.

Can I take 1 mg of folic acid daily? ›

When taken by mouth: It is likely safe for most people to take folic acid in doses of no more than 1 mg daily. Doses higher than 1 mg daily may be unsafe. These doses might cause stomach upset, nausea, diarrhea, irritability, confusion, behavior changes, skin reactions, seizures, and other side effects.

Is 5mg of folic acid equivalent to 400 mcg? ›

Make sure you are clear about what dose to take - the recommended dose is 400 micrograms once daily. The 5 mg tablet has more than ten times as much folic acid as this. If you have any questions, ask a pharmacist to advise you.

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