Folate Deficiency Anemia: Care Instructions

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Folate (also called folic acid) is a B vitamin. Your body uses it to make red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen around the body.

When you don't have enough folate, your body doesn't make enough red blood cells. This is called anemia.

Your doctor may have you take a folic acid supplement every day to treat this kind of anemia. In most cases, it gets better in 5 to 7 days. But if you have another health problem, your doctor may want you to keep taking folic acid after the anemia goes away.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Be safe with medicines. Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.
  • Ask your doctor how much folate you need every day. Eat foods that are high in folate.
    • Foods high in folate include fortified breakfast cereals and breads. They also include liver, avocado, asparagus, spinach, strawberries, oranges and orange juice, and wheat germ. You can read food labels to see how much folate is in food.
    • Eat vegetables raw or lightly steamed. This is best way to prepare them if you want to get as much folate as possible.
  • Ask your doctor if you should take a daily vitamin that includes folic acid.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You are dizzy or lightheaded, or you feel like you may faint.
  • Your fatigue and weakness continue or get worse.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You are confused or can't think clearly.
  • You think you might be pregnant.
  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.