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Folic acid

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VOL: 102, ISSUE: 21, PAGE NO: 29


- Folic acid.

- Lexpec.

- Folicare.

- Several combined iron and folic acid preparations are available.


- Folic acid is a water-soluble vitamin in the B-complex group.

- Folic acid is essential for the activity of several enzymes.

- It is required for the manufacture of nucleic acids and therefore for growth and reproduction, as well as the formation of red blood cells and the function of the central nervous system.


- Nutrition and blood.

- Vitamin B-complex group.


- Pregnancy.


- Women planning pregnancy.

- Chronic haemolytic states.

- Renal dialysis.

- Sickle cell anaemia.

- With vitamin B12 in the treatment of megaloblastic anaemia. 


- Folic acid should not be used in undiagnosed megaloblastic anaemia unless vitamin B12 is administered concurrently, otherwise neuropathy may be precipitated.


- Toxicity does not normally result from excessive folic acid intake, as folic acid is water-soluble and regularly excreted by the body.


- Tablets.

- Syrup.


- The use of vitamins as general pick-me-ups is of unproven value and, in the NHS, they should only be prescribed to prevent or to treat deficiency.

- Most causes of folate deficiency are self-limiting and therefore folic acid has few indications for long-term use.

- Women who are planning a pregnancy should be advised to take folic acid daily before conception to prevent occurrence of neural tube defects.

- Women who are receiving antiepileptic therapy need individual counselling before starting folic acid.

- Women who have not been taking folic acid supplements and who suspect they are pregnant should start at once.

- A woman is at higher risk of having a baby with a neural tube defect if she has previously had a child with a neural tube defect; if she has a neural tube defect herself; if her partner or a first-degree relative has a neural tube defect; or if she has coeliac disease or epilepsy. In these cases higher doses of folic acid are recommended.


- A varied diet that contains fresh fruit and vegetables usually provides sufficient folic acid.

- Folic acid supplements should be continued until the 12th week of pregnancy.

- Nurses should refer to manufacturer’s summary of product characteristics and to appropriate local guidelines

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