Peter Hibberd, M.D., is a doctor whose advice is based on more than 28 years of hospital outpatient and inpatient experience. He is an experienced emergency medicine physician, surgeon, and consultant. Dr. Hibberd is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. He is also a fellow and active member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, an active member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and a member and fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Hibberd has earned numerous national and international professional certifications, memberships, and awards.

How Much Folic Acid Do I Need Per Day?

Thursday, 12 November 2009 11:24 AM

Question: What is the latest RDA for folic acid?

Dr. Hibberd's Answer:

The National Institute for Health's recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for dietary folate is 400 micrograms (mcg) daily for everyone older than 14.

Folate, an essential component in cell division, helps produce and maintain new cells. Dietary folate deficiency often is associated with B12 deficiency and may mask B12 deficiency.

Increased folate is needed in pregnancy, lactation, malabsorption, liver disease, renal dialysis, chemotherapy, regular alcohol use or overuse, and many chronic disease states. It is especially vital when taking certain medications (including Dilantin, metformin, sulphasalazine, triampterine, barbiturates, and methotrexate) that interfere with folate availability and utilization.

Folate also helps maintain normal levels of the amino acid homocysteine and is essential for its metabolism. Elevated homocysteine levels have been associated with increased vascular disease risks, such as heart attacks and stroke. Low levels of folate will produce anemia, and are associated with increased risk for birth defects. It is the reason many foods are supplemented with folic acid. Low levels of folate also are associated with a greater risk of breast, colon, and pancreatic cancer.

Although many conditions benefit from folic acid supplementation, a physician should supervise folic acid supplementation higher than 1,000 mcg daily.

© HealthDay

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