This lab test can help diagnose a certain type of anemia.

Folate Overview

Reviewed: April 21, 2014

Folate is a vitamin is needed for red blood cells and white blood cells to function properly. Adequate folic acid levels is important for pregnant women in order to prevent neural tube defects in the baby. Testing folic acid is also done in order to help diagnose macrocytic anemia.

Folate is measured in nanogram/milliliter (ng/mL).

The normal range for folate is 3.1 - 12.4 ng/mL


Blood draw


Fasting 8 hours before the test is usually required.

Water intake is allowed.

Do not drink alcohol before the test.

What the results mean

Increased levels of folate are very uncommon. Increased levels may be associated with a diet rich in folate or excessive folic acid supplements.

Folate deficiency is usually seen in the setting of poor dietary intake (elderly, alcoholics), rapid cell turnover (hemolytic anemia), and certain medications such as antiepileptic drugs, oral contraceptives, some antibiotics. Due to the limited stores of folate maintained in the body, clinical folate deficiency becomes apparent within weeks to a few months.