The measurement of folic acid in the red blood cells is used in testing for possible deficiency.
Folic acid or vitamin B9 is a water-soluble vitamin that is formed by bacteria in the gut (intestinal microbiome) and stored in the liver. It is also found in foods such as eggs, fruits, green leafy vegetables, liver, milk and yeast. Approximately 20% of the folic acid absorbed daily comes from dietary sources while the remaining 80% is made up of intestinal microbiota microorganisms.
Folic acid is essential for the normal function of red and white blood cells. It also plays a role in the metabolism of amino acids and nucleotides. Adequate folic acid intake is necessary in pregnant women to reduce the chance of developing neural tube abnormalities in the developing fetus.
Screening for folic acid is usually done in conjunction with a test for vitamin B12 in the control of macrocytic anemia. The body stores very small amounts of folic acid so its levels fall below normal 21 to 28 days after the onset of the deficiency.
As serum folic acid levels are subject to rapid changes that reflect diet and absorption, measurement of folic acid in red blood cells (RBCs) is a better diagnostic tool, as its levels remain fairly constant.
Possible Interpretations of Pathological Values
- Increase: Taking folic acid supplements.
- Decrease: Alcoholism, Alzheimer's disease, anemia (due to vitamin B12 deficiency, haemolytic, megoblast, malignant, sickle cell), dysbacteriosis (dysbiosis), celiac disease, Crohn's disease, herpetic acid, herpetic dermatitis, dermatitis, dermatitis processes or conditions, liver disease, lactation (without increased dietary folic acid intake), leukopenia, dialysis, hyperthyroidism, inadequate dietary intake, infancy, nesting diseases, leukemia (acute myeloma) malabsorption syndromes, malignancies, malnutrition, myelodysplastic disease, myelosuppressive disease, neoplastic diseases, pregnancy (without increased dietary folic acid intake), renal insufficiency, short bowel syndrome, BSE Medications: Alcohol, Aminopterin, Anticoagulants (chronic administration), Anti-epileptic, Chloroquine hydrochloride, Chloroquine phosphate, Glutethimide, Hydroxychloroquine sulfate, Isoniazid, Methotrexate, Oral Phytoxin, Chronic Contraceptives quinacrine, quinine sulfate, sulfonamides, triamterene.
Laboratory test results are the most important parameter for the diagnosis and monitoring of all pathological conditions. 70%-80% of diagnostic decisions are based on laboratory tests. Correct interpretation of laboratory results allows a doctor to distinguish "healthy" from "diseased".
Laboratory test results should not be interpreted from the numerical result of a single analysis. Test results should be interpreted in relation to each individual case and family history, clinical findings and the results of other laboratory tests and information. Your personal physician should explain the importance of your test results.
At Diagnostiki Athinon we answer any questions you may have about the test you perform in our laboratory and we contact your doctor to get the best possible medical care.