Side Effects of Folic Acid: What You Should Know

Folic acid, a crucial synthetic form of vitamin B9 or folate, plays an essential role in many body functions, including anti-aging. It’s vital for DNA synthesis and cell division, central to maintaining youthfulness and good health. The daily recommended amount of folic acid for adults is 400 micrograms (mcg). It’s especially beneficial during pregnancy, supports fetal development, contributes to heart health, prevents certain anemia, and aids brain function.

While folic acid is beneficial mainly, it’s good to be aware that in rare cases, some people might experience side effects like mild stomach discomfort or allergic reactions, especially if taking high doses. But don’t worry; these are generally manageable. Remember to watch for unusual symptoms, stick to the recommended daily amount, and talk to your doctor for advice tailored to your health needs.

This guide is here to help you understand the great benefits of folic acid and how to use it wisely for better health, well-being, and a vibrant, youthful life.

Key Takeaways:

  • Folic acid, a synthetic form of folate, is a B vitamin with essential roles in DNA synthesis and cell division.
  • While generally well-tolerated, folic acid can have side effects that should be recognized and managed.
  • Potential side effects of folic acid include gastrointestinal issues, allergic reactions, and long-term risks.
  • Monitoring for early signs of side effects and balancing folic acid intake is crucial for preventing and managing adverse effects.
  • Consulting a healthcare professional is advised for personalized guidance and maintaining optimal health.
side effects of folic acid

Understanding Folic Acid: Benefits and Potential Risks

Folic acid, a synthetic folate, offers many health benefits. It is essential for pregnant women, as it supports fetal development and helps reduce the risk of congenital disabilities. By ensuring an adequate intake of folic acid during pregnancy, women can contribute to their baby’s healthy growth and development.

In addition to its importance during pregnancy, folic acid plays a vital role in maintaining cardiovascular health. Research suggests adequate folic acid intake may help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Folic acid is believed to contribute to healthy blood flow and helps lower homocysteine levels, an amino acid associated with increased cardiovascular risk.1

Furthermore, folic acid is essential for preventing certain types of anemia, such as megaloblastic anemia, which is characterized by the production of abnormally large red blood cells. Folic acid helps in the production of new cells and assists in the synthesis of DNA and RNA, which are vital for proper cell function.

In addition to its physiological benefits, folic acid also plays a role in supporting overall brain function. Studies have shown that folic acid may help improve cognitive performance, especially in older adults2. Adequate folic acid intake has been associated with a reduced risk of age-related mental decline and neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Despite its numerous benefits, knowing the potential risks associated with folic acid supplementation is essential. Taking excessive amounts of folic acid, particularly in the form of high-dose supplements, may have adverse effects on health. Maintaining a balanced intake and consulting with a healthcare professional before starting any supplementation regimen is crucial.

By understanding the benefits and risks of folic acid, individuals can make informed decisions about using this essential nutrient. It is always recommended to consult a healthcare professional for personalized guidance and to ensure optimal health and well-being.

Side Effects of Folic Acid

Folic acid supplements are generally safe and well-tolerated, contributing positively to overall health and well-being. Most people enjoy its benefits without any adverse effects.

Some individuals might experience mild gastrointestinal discomfort, such as nausea, bloating, or gas, when taking folic acid. These symptoms are typically temporary and resolve spontaneously. Should they continue or become bothersome, a quick consultation with a healthcare provider can be helpful.

Allergic reactions to folic acid are rare but can manifest as skin rashes or itching. In these instances, seeking medical advice promptly for the proper care is essential.

For those considering long-term or high-dose folic acid supplementation, knowing that a healthcare professional can guide you is reassuring. They’ll ensure that the supplement complements your health needs and doesn’t interact with any medications you might be taking. This proactive approach to supplementation ensures that you can maximize the benefits while minimizing any risks.

folic acid side effects on skin
Side EffectsSymptoms
NauseaThe feeling of discomfort and the urge to vomit
BloatingThe feeling of discomfort and urge to vomit
GasExcessive air or gas in the digestive tract
Allergic ReactionsSkin rashes, itching, or hives

Managing and Preventing Folic Acid Side Effects

Managing and preventing folic acid side effects is crucial for optimal health and well-being. By taking proactive steps, individuals can reap the benefits of folic acid without experiencing unnecessary discomfort or complications.

Identifying Early Signs of Folic Acid Side Effects

It is essential to be vigilant and recognize the early signs of folic acid side effects. Common indicators include gastrointestinal discomfort such as nausea, bloating, or gas. Additionally, some individuals may experience allergic reactions or skin rashes after taking folic acid supplements.

signs of folic acid side effects

When to Speak with a Healthcare Professional?

If you experience persistent or worsening side effects while taking folic acid, it is crucial to consult a healthcare professional. They can provide expert guidance, evaluate your situation, and recommend appropriate actions to manage and alleviate potential complications.

Safe Intake: Balancing Folic Acid Levels

Maintaining safe intake levels of folic acid is essential to prevent adverse effects. This is especially important when considering folic acid supplementation. Avoid exceeding the recommended dosage and carefully monitor your overall folic acid intake from both dietary sources and supplements. Balancing folic acid levels can help minimize the risk of side effects and potential interactions with other medications or existing health conditions.


In conclusion, folic acid, a synthetic form of folate, is a crucial nutrient with many health benefits. It is essential during pregnancy for fetal development and is critical for maintaining cardiovascular health, supporting brain function, and preventing certain types of anemia. While it is generally safe and well-tolerated, it’s essential to be aware of potential side effects, which, although rare, can include gastrointestinal discomfort and allergic reactions.

To manage and prevent these side effects, it’s essential to be vigilant about early signs, such as nausea, bloating, or gas, and allergic reactions like skin rashes. If these symptoms persist or worsen, consulting with a healthcare professional is essential for personalized advice and proper management.

Maintaining a balanced intake of folic acid is crucial. This involves adhering to the recommended daily amounts and being mindful of the folic acid content in both dietary sources and supplements.

Overconsumption can lead to adverse effects, so avoiding exceeding
recommended dosages is important. Consulting with healthcare professionals is advisable before starting any supplementation, particularly long-term or high-dose use, to ensure it complements your health needs and does not interact with any medications.

By understanding the benefits and potential risks of folic acid and taking a proactive approach to supplementation, individuals can optimize their health and well-being while minimizing the risk of side effects.


Can folic acid have side effects on the skin and hair?

Yes, in some cases, folic acid supplementation may cause skin reactions and rashes. However, it is essential to note that these side effects are rare. Folic acid does not typically have any direct impact on hair health.

Are there long-term side effects of folic acid?

Long-term use of high-dose folic acid supplements may have potential risks and interactions with certain medications. It is advisable to consult a healthcare professional before starting any long-term folic acid supplementation.

Are there any specific side effects of folic acid in pregnancy?

Folic acid is essential for pregnant women to support fetal development and reduce the risk of congenital disabilities. While folic acid is generally safe for pregnant women, it is necessary to consult a healthcare professional for personalized guidance and to ensure the correct dosage.

Can taking too much folic acid cause overdose side effects?

Taking excessive amounts of folic acid can lead to an overdose. Symptoms of folic acid overdose may include nausea, loss of appetite, and confusion. Following recommended dosage guidelines and consulting a healthcare professional for personalized advice is essential.


  1. Folic Acid Supplementation and the Risk of Cardiovascular Diseases: A Meta‐Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials ↩︎
  2. Effect of 3-year folic acid supplementation on cognitive function in older adults in the FACIT trial: a randomised, double blind, controlled trial ↩︎