Thirteen vitamins are considered essential to the health and function of your body. This means that you must consume them each day or you will develop symptoms. Folic acid is a form of the B vitamin folate. These terms are used interchangeably and both forms are are healthful for your body. You can consume folate every day, but there is a maximum daily intake of folic acid.
Daily Intake Recommendations
Folate is naturally found in food, and folic acid is the form of folate that is used in multivitamins, supplements and fortified foods. The current daily intake recommendations for folate and folic acid are 400 mcg per day for adults. The maximum amount of folic acid that you should consume each day is set at 1,000 mcg, according to Oregon State University. Therefore, you should get the majority of your daily intake from folate-containing foods and limit your folic acid supplementation to a standard multivitamin. The Harvard School of Public Health states that a standard multivitamin contains around 400 mcg of folic acid.
Folic acid is found in multivitamins, supplements and fortified breakfast cereals, breads and grain products. Natural food sources of folate include green leafy vegetables, fruits, asparagus, beans, peas and nuts. If you eat a balanced diet that contains these foods, you most likely get ample amounts of folate. However if you do not consume enough each day, you can develop a deficiency. A daily multivitamin ensures that you get enough folic acid each day in addition to the foods that you eat.
Folic acid or folate deficiency is not common, but it can occur. A folic acid deficiency can cause graying of the hair, mouth ulcers, peptic ulcers, poor growth, a swollen tongue, diarrhea and certain types of anemias. The Harvard School of Public Health states that pregnant mothers, breast feeding mothers and people who drink alcohol regularly may need 100 mcg to 200 mcg of additional folic acid each day in order to avoid symptoms.
If you get the majority of your B vitamins through food, then you do not need to worry about taking too much. Since your body excretes excess folic acid through the urine, high doses of this supplement has not been shown to cause major health concerns, but stick to the daily limit to avoid problems. If you are taking medications, it is always a good idea to talk with your health-care provider before your increase your intake of vitamins, because they may interfere with how your medication works.