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Folic Acid and Weight Gain

author image Jill Corleone, RDN, LD
Jill Corleone is a registered dietitian and health coach who has been writing and lecturing on diet and health for more than 15 years. Her work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Diabetes Self-Management and in the book "Noninvasive Mechanical Ventilation," edited by John R. Bach, M.D. Corleone holds a Bachelor of Science in nutrition.
Folic Acid and Weight Gain
Folic acid is one of the B vitamins. Photo Credit: Lin Zhang/iStock/Getty Images

Making sure you get enough folic acid in your diet is essential for good health. Getting just enough, or even too much, should not cause you to gain weight. However, unexplained weight loss is associated with a folic acid deficiency, and replenishing your needs may help you get back to a healthy weight.

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If you're gaining weight and not sure of the cause, it's probably not because of folic acid. Consult your doctor to figure out the underlying issue.

About Folic Acid

Folic acid is the supplemental form of folate and is found in vitamin preparations and fortified foods. Folate, the natural form of the B vitamin, is found in fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry, fish, beans and dairy foods. If you're unable to meet your daily folate needs from these sources, you may need to supplement with folic acid.

Deficiency and Anemia

A folic acid deficiency can lead to anemia. If you're anemic due to a folic acid deficiency, you may experience a number of symptoms, including loss of appetite and weight loss. If you're taking folic acid to improve your anemia, your appetite may return, which may lead to weight gain.

Getting Enough

Most Americans are able to meet their daily folic acid needs, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements. However, women of childbearing age and non-Hispanic black women are at risk of not getting enough in their diet. The recommended dietary allowance for folic acid for adults is 400 micrograms a day; for pregnant and lactating women, it is 600 micrograms a day.

What Causes Weight Gain

Folic acid by itself should not cause you to add pounds. Consuming more calories than your body burns is the most common but not the only cause of weight gain. Certain medications, such as birth control and steroids, can lead to weight gain, as can medical conditions such as pregnancy or an underactive thyroid. Talk to your doctor about your weight and supplement use to help determine the cause of your weight gain.

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