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A folate test measures the amount of folate in the blood. Folate is one of many B vitamins. The body needs folate for normal growth and to make red blood cells (RBC), white blood cells (WBC), and platelets. Folate also is important for the normal development of a baby (fetus).
Folate can be measured in the liquid portion of blood (plasma). This reflects a person's recent intake of folate and folic acid in the diet. Folate is found in foods such as liver; citrus fruits; dark green, leafy vegetables (spinach); whole grains; and beans. Folic acid is the man-made form of folate. It's found in vitamin pills and fortified foods, such as fortified breakfast cereals.
Folate can also be measured as the amount in the red blood cells. This test may be a better way than the plasma test to measure the amount of folate stored in the body. The amount of folate in red blood cells measures the level when the cell was made, as much as 4 months earlier. This level is not usually affected by the amount of folate and folic acid in your diet each day. It is a more accurate way to measure the body's level of folate.
Folate deficiency can result in a type of anemia called megaloblastic anemia. Mild folate deficiency often does not cause any symptoms. Severe folate deficiency may cause a sore tongue, diarrhea, headaches, weakness, forgetfulness, and fatigue.
A folate test may be done to:
For the folate plasma test, do not eat or drink (other than water) for 8 to 10 hours before the test. If you take any medicines regularly, your doctor will talk to you about how to take these before the test.
You do not need to do anything before having a folate red blood cell test.
A health professional uses a needle to take a blood sample, usually from the arm.
When a blood sample is taken, you may feel nothing at all from the needle. Or you might feel a quick sting or pinch.
There is very little chance of having a problem from this test. When a blood sample is taken, a small bruise may form at the site.
Each lab has a different range for what's normal. Your lab report should show the range that your lab uses for each test. The normal range is just a guide. Your doctor will also look at your results based on your age, health, and other factors. A value that isn't in the normal range may still be normal for you.
Current as of:
November 8, 2019
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family MedicineMartin J. Gabica MD - Family MedicineElizabeth T. Russo MD - Internal Medicine
Current as of: November 8, 2019
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine & Elizabeth T. Russo MD - Internal Medicine
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