Folic acid - test

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What Is Folic Acid?

Folic acid (also known as folate or Vitamin B9) is an essential nutrient in the B family of vitamins. It's needed for healthy cell development throughout the body. It helps make DNA and RNA, the building blocks of cells. Folic acid helps form red blood cells, and it also helps the body use iron, which is important for healthy red blood cells.

Preparation for Folic Acid Test

In most cases, there is no special preparation required to take the folic acid test. The patient may be asked to fast for eight hours prior to the test to ensure accurate results. Patients should also inform the doctor of any medications or supplements they may be taking, as some may interfere with the test.

Procedure for Folic Acid Test

The folic acid test involves a simple blood draw. For the test, around 5 milliliters of blood are drawn from the antecubital vein in the elbow. This blood sample is then sent to the lab for analysis.

Types of Folic Acid Tests

The two main types of folic acid tests are:

  • Red Blood Cell Folate test - This type of test measures the folate levels that are found in the red blood cells.
  • Serum Folate Test - This type of test measures the amount of unbound folate in the serum or plasma. This test is typically more accurate than the Red Blood Cell Folate test.

Risks Associated with a Folic Acid Test

The risks associated with a folic acid test are very low. The most common risk is slight bruising from the needle used to draw the blood sample. Other risks can include fainting or light headedness due to the sight of blood. In rare cases, an infection at the needle site mightOccur.

Why Get a Folic Acid Test?

A folic acid test is typically ordered when a patient has symptoms associated with a folic acid deficiency. These symptoms include anemia, fatigue, abdominal pain, irritability, and difficulty concentrating. The test is also ordered to confirm a diagnosis of pernicious anemia, a serious and potentially life-threatening condition caused by a lack of vitamin B12 and folic acid. A folic acid test can be used to help monitor treatment for these conditions.

When Is a Folic Acid Test Ordered?

A folic acid test is typically ordered when a patient is experiencing symptoms of a folic acid deficiency. It is also frequently ordered as part of a routine blood panel, to assess overall nutrient levels in the body. A folic acid test may also be ordered if the patient is pregnant, as a low folic acid level can increase the risk of birth defects.