The terms folate and folic acid are sometimes used interchangeably. Folate is a water-soluble B-complex vitamin. Common dietary sources of folate include cereals, leafy green vegetables, asparagus, legumes and organ meat. Certain medical conditions and other factors may cause you to have an increase in serum -- or blood -- folate levels.
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Pernicious anemia may cause high serum folate levels, due to impaired utilization of folate. According to a 2006 article by Florence Aslinia, M.D., and colleagues, published in the journal "Clinical Medicine & Research," if you are a person with a vitamin B12 deficiency caused by pernicious anemia, your serum folate levels will tend to be increased, presumably because the methionine synthase pathway -- methionine synthase is an enzyme in humans responsible for the production of methionine, an amino acid -- is impaired, allowing methyltetrahydrofolate, or the most common form of folate, to accumulate in your blood. The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute states that if you have pernicious anemia, you are unable to absorb sufficient amounts of vitamin B12 from food, due to lack of intrinsic factor -- a protein made in your stomach. Common signs and symptoms associated with pernicious anemia include increased serum folate, fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness, headache and chest pain.
Blind Loop Syndrome
Intestinal blind loop syndrome can cause elevated serum folate levels. The University of Maryland Medical Center states that intestinal blind loop syndrome -- also known as stasis syndrome or stagnant loop syndrome -- occurs when a segment of your small intestine becomes bypassed and cut off from the usual flow of food and digestive juices. The bypassed segment of your small intestine, called a blind loop, creates numerous health problems. Food is unable to pass through the loop, and digestive juices stagnate. Decreased gut motility, meaning decreased movement of food through your gut, causes food to ferment, which encourages bacteria to flourish and interferes with your body's absorption of essential nutrients. Common signs and symptoms associated with blind loop syndrome include increased serum folate levels, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, nausea, fatty stools, bloating, diarrhea and unintentional weight loss.
Increased Food Intake
Increased food consumption can boost your serum folate levels. According to Aslinia and colleagues, you should fast prior to testing for serum folate levels, as serum folate levels increase with eating. Any increase in serum folate associated with feeding is likely to be transient, or temporary. Folate intake, and therefore increased serum folate levels, is not associated with any health risk, and the risk of toxicity from supplement-related folic acid intake is extremely low. However, speculation is present that high levels of folic acid may provoke seizures if you are taking anti-convulsant medication. Consult a medical doctor before consuming a folic acid supplement if you are taking anti-convulsant medication.
- OSU Linus Pauling Institute: Folic Acid
- "Clinical Medicine & Research"; Megaloblastic Anemia and Other Causes of Macrocytosis; Florence Aslinia, M.D. et al.; September 2006
- National Heart Lung and Blood Institute: What Is Pernicious Anemia?
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Blind Loop Syndrome
- National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements: Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Folate