Folic Acid (Vitamins B9) - Deficiency Test
The folic acid test is a quantitative analysis of serum levels of folic acid (also called pteroylglutamic acid, folacin, or folate) by radioisotopic assay of competitive binding. It's often performed concomitantly with measurement of serum vitamin B12 1evels. Like vitamin B12 folic acid is a water-soluble vitamin that influences hematopoiesis, deoxyribonucleic acid synthesis, and overall body growth.
Normally, diet supplies folic acid in liver, kidney, yeast, fruits, leafy vegetables, eggs, and milk. Inadequate dietary intake may cause a deficiency, especially during pregnancy. Because of folic acid's vital role in hematopoiesis, the usual indication for this test is a suspected hematologic abnormality.
Procedure and posttest care
Normally, serum folic acid values are greater than or equal to 3.5 ug/L.
Low serum levels may indicate hematologic abnormalities, such as anemia (especially megaloblastic anemia), leukopenia, and thrombocytopenia. The Schilling test is often performed to rule out vitamin B12 deficiency, which also causes megaloblastic anemia. Decreased folic acid levels can also result from hypermetabolic states (such as hyperthyroidism), inadequate dietary intake, small-bowel malabsorption syndrome, chronic alcoholism, or pregnancy.
Serum levels greater than normal may indicate excessive dietary intake of folic acid or folic acid supplements. Even when taken in large doses, this vitamin is nontoxic.
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