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Folate - Serum


Folate is a B vitamin which acts as a coenzyme in the metabolism of amino acids. It is also vital for the synthesis of purines and pyrimidines which are essential for DNA synthesis and red cell formation. Folate is also especially important during the first trimester of pregnancy so if you are thinking of becoming pregnant it is important to make sure your folate levels are normal.

What might a low result mean?

Really low levels of these vitamins can go on to cause anaemia where you not only don't produce enough red blood cells, but also the cells you do produce don’t work as well as they should and are bigger than normal. But even slightly low levels of either of these vitamins can begin to make you feel unwell. Often people can feel fatigued, have pins and needles, muscle weakness, mouth complaints and problems with mood and memory. For the athlete this can result in reduced performance and lack of maintenance of maximal exertion. If combined with other deficiencies, such as vitamin D deficiency, it can increase your stress-fracture risk.

You might become deficient in these vitamins for three main reasons: diet, inability to absorb them from the gut and due to some medications or excessive alcohol. For athletes any of these can be the cause, but there is particular concern over people who avoid vegetables.

What might a high result mean?

High folate levels are usually caused by over-supplementation. It is a signal to reduce or stop your supplements until your levels get back to normal.

How might I improve my result?

Low folate levels can be improved by incorporating more folate rich foods into your diet. Folate is found in a wide variety of foods such as cooked dried beans, peas, and lentils, spinach and asparagus as well as fortified foods such as breakfast cereals.