Meds and you

27 September 2013

Folic acid

Folic acid is a vitamin. Vitamins are drugs that organic substances present in small quantities in natural foods that are essential for metabolic functioning.


Folic acid (Also known as folate, folacin or pteroylglutamic acid)

Folic acid is the active ingredient of Be-Tabs Folic Acid tablets.

General information
Folic acid is a vitamin. Vitamins are drugs that organic substances present in small quantities in natural foods that are essential for metabolic functioning of the body, good health, and disease prevention.

In South Africa folic acid is registered for the treatment of folic acid supplementation in folate deficiency; treatment and prevention of certain types of aneamia as a result of folate deficiency; routine supplementation in woman planning a pregnancy and during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, primarily for the prevention of birth defects such as spina bifida; heamolytic disease; folate deficiency as a result of drug therapy; chronic alcoholism and methanol toxicity impairing the body’s ability to utilise the vitamin, and methotrexate toxicity.

It is advised not to discontinue treatment before the recommended course has been completed.

How does folic acid work?
Folic acid is essential for erythropoiesis, the actual process of making red blood cells.

Fast facts

Drug schedule: unscheduled
Available as: folic acid is available as tablets
What does it do? Folic acid is used to replenish folic acid levels in conditions resulting from folate deficiency.
Overdose risk: low
Dependence risk: low
Is Folic acid available as a generic? yes
Is Folic acid available on prescription only? no

User information

Onset of effect: rapid -often within 60 minutes
Dietary advice: good dietary sources of folic acid include leafy green vegetables, liver, nuts, peas and beans, asparagus, broccoli, root vegetables and oranges.
Stopping this medicine: treatment with this medication can be safely stopped when no longer needed.
Prolonged use: no problems expected with prolonged use.

Special precautions
Consult your doctor before using this drug if:

  • you have been diagnosed with pernicious anaemia, unless you are already being treated with vitamin B12

Pregnancy: safe, as long as take at recommended dose.
Breastfeeding: this medication is safe for use.
Porphyria: this medication is safe for use.
Infants and children: this medication is safe for use in children at the recommended dose.
The elderly: no special precautions need to be taken.
Driving and hazardous work: no special precautions need to be taken.
Alcohol: avoid concomitant use of alcohol with this medication.

Possible side effects

Side Effect
Consult your doctor

Only if severe
In all cases


taste disturbance


skin rash










Drug interactions

Phenytoin Phenytoin concentrations may be decreased

Overdose action
A small overdose is no cause for concern. In case of intentional large overdose, seek emergency medical attention.

Recommended dosage
Adults, oral: 5mg daily

This material is not intended to substitute medical advice, but is for informational purposes only. Please consult a physician for specific treatment and recommendations.


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